(b) Upon application of a coal mine operator, the commission shall consider site-specific requests for the use of diesel equipment in underground coal mines and for the use of alternative diesel-related health and safety technologies and methods. The commission's action on applications submitted under this subsection shall be on a mine-by-mine basis. Upon receipt of a site-specific application, the commission shall conduct an investigation, which investigation shall include consultation with the mine operator and the authorized representatives of the miners at the mine. Authorized representatives of the miners shall include a Mine Health and Safety Committee elected by miners at the mine, a person or persons employed by an employee organization representing miners at the mine or a person or persons authorized as the representative or representatives of miners of the mine in accordance with MSHA regulations at 30 C.F.R. Pt. 40 (relating to representative of miners). Where there is no authorized representative of the miners, the commission shall consult with a reasonable number of miners at the mine. Upon completion of the investigation, the commission may approve the application for the site-specific request: Provided, That an application for a site-specific request under this subsection may be approved only upon a majority vote of all six members of the commission. All six members must be present when a vote is taken.
(1) Within one hundred eighty days of receipt of an application for use of alternative technologies or methods, the commission shall complete its investigation. The time period may be extended with the consent of the applicant.
(2) The commission shall have thirty days in which to render a final decision approving or rejecting the application.
(3) The commission members shall not approve an application made under this section if, at the conclusion of the investigation, the commission members have made a determination that the use of the alternative technology or method will reduce or compromise the level of health and safety protection of miners.
(4) The written approval of an application for the use of alternative technologies or methods shall include the results of the commission's investigation and describe the specific conditions of use for the alternative technology or method.
(5) The written decision to reject an application for the use of alternative technologies or methods shall include the results of the commission's investigation and shall outline in detail the basis for the rejection.
(c) The commission shall establish conditions for the use of diesel-powered equipment in shaft and slope construction operations at coal mines.
(d) In performing its functions, the commission shall have access to the services of the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety. The board shall provide administrative support and assistance pursuant to section six, article six of this chapter, to enable the commission to carry out its duties.
(e) Any action taken by the commission to either approve or reject the use of an alternative technology or method, or establish conditions under subsection (c) of this section, shall be final and binding and not subject to further review except where a decision by the commission may be deemed to be an abuse of discretion or contrary to law. If any party affected by a decision of the commission believes that the decision is an abuse of discretion or contrary to law, that party may file a petition for review with the circuit court of Kanawha County in accordance with the provisions of the administrative procedures act relating to judicial review of governmental determinations. The court, in finding that any decision made by the commission is an abuse of discretion or contrary to law, shall vacate and, if appropriate, remand the case.
(f) The powers and duties of the commission shall be limited to the matters regarding the use of diesel-powered equipment in underground coal mines.
(g) Appropriations for the funding of the commission and to effectuate the purposes of this article shall be made to a budget account hereby established for that purpose in the General Revenue Fund. Expenditures from this fund are provided for in section six, article six of this chapter.
(h) The commission may issue a clarifying resolution about the initial rules and other matters consistent with the powers and duties of the commission under this article. A unanimous vote is required for any clarifying resolution by the commission.
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