(1)(a) Each taxpayer shall institute and complete a reclamation and restoration program upon each site of severance subject to the taxes imposed by this part, in accordance with criteria adopted by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to chapter 378, which shall include the following standards:
1. Control of the physical and chemical quality of the water draining from the area of operation;
2. Soil stabilization, including contouring and vegetation;
3. Elimination of health and safety hazards;
4. Conservation and preservation of remaining natural resources; and
5. A time schedule for the completion of the program and the various phases thereof.
The Department of Environmental Protection may adopt as criteria local ordinances which, at the minimum, meet the above standards. The mandatory obligation to institute and complete a reclamation and restoration program under this paragraph shall not apply to acres disturbed by the severance of solid minerals before July 1, 1975. However, if such acres are included within sites of severance that are subject to reclamation and restoration programs approved by the Department of Environmental Protection, such acres shall be treated as being subject to this paragraph for purposes of the refunds provided under paragraph (d).
(b) The reclamation and restoration program may include qualified sites other than the site of severance upon which the taxes were paid. The Department of Environmental Protection may adopt a list of sites qualifying under this paragraph, which must meet, at the minimum, the following qualifications:
1. The restoration or reclamation of the site and the program to be instituted are in the public interest; and
2. The location of the site is in an area where economic considerations would not be conducive to immediate restoration or reclamation of the site.
(c) As part of accomplishing a program of restoration and reclamation at a particular site of severance or at other sites qualified pursuant to paragraph (b), the taxpayer may request the Department of Environmental Protection to accept a portion or portions of the site as state land. Such a request shall be accompanied by an offer to transfer to the state title to the land involved and suitable ingress thereto and egress therefrom. If such request is granted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the refund under this election shall be computed on the fair market value of the land at the time of transfer, as determined by the taxpayer and the Department of Environmental Protection, with the approval of the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and concurred in after public hearing by such board.
(d) The Chief Financial Officer shall, upon written verification of compliance with paragraph (a), paragraph (b), or paragraph (c) by the Department of Environmental Protection, and upon verification of the cost of the restoration and reclamation program or, if paragraph (c) is elected, the fair market value of the land, grant refunds, to be paid from the Land Reclamation Trust Fund, of the taxes paid under this part, in an amount equal to 100 percent of the costs incurred in complying with paragraph (a) or paragraph (b), or 100 percent of the fair market value of the land transferred in complying with paragraph (c), subject to the following limitations:
1. A taxpayer shall not be entitled to refunds in excess of the amount of taxes paid by the taxpayer under this part which are deposited in the Land Reclamation Trust Fund.
2. A taxpayer shall not be entitled to the payment of a refund for costs incurred in connection with a particular restoration and reclamation program unless and until the taxpayer is accomplishing the program in reasonable compliance with the criteria established by the Department of Environmental Protection.
(e) Claims for reclamation refunds under paragraph (d) shall be filed on an annual basis within 60 days after the taxpayer has paid the tax imposed under this part for the preceding taxable year. The taxpayer may include in the claim for refund all costs incurred in complying with paragraph (a) or paragraph (b), or the values of all land transferred in complying with paragraph (c), for the period July 1, 1971, through December 31 of the preceding taxable year, to the extent that such costs or values have not been previously allowed for refund purposes.
(f)1. To encourage the rapid accomplishment of reclamation, the taxes credited to the Land Reclamation Trust Fund shall be available for refund to the taxpayer under paragraph (d) for a maximum period of 5 years from the date the tax is paid. The Land Reclamation Trust Fund shall be subject to the service charge imposed pursuant to chapter 215.
2. In allocating the tax paid into the Land Reclamation Trust Fund for a particular taxable year to refunds claimed and received by the taxpayer, the taxes first paid into the trust fund shall be deemed the taxes first paid out in refunds. The department shall determine by July 1 of each year that portion of the Land Reclamation Trust Fund for which refund claims have not been timely filed and allowed in accordance with this paragraph, and such portion shall be transferred to the General Revenue Fund.
(g) If, during any 3 consecutive taxable years, a taxpayer has not performed work under any approved reclamation and restoration program and if, at the end of such 3-year period, the taxpayer has completed reclamation on all lands he or she is obligated to reclaim pursuant to paragraph (a), then all moneys in the Land Reclamation Trust Fund to the taxpayer’s account at the end of such period shall be transferred to the General Revenue Fund.
(h) If the Department of Environmental Protection determines that a taxpayer has abandoned a reclamation program subject to this part or has failed to complete such program by the completion date specified by the Department of Environmental Protection, and if the Department of Environmental Protection further determines that the taxpayer, after 60 days’ notice of such deficiency from the Department of Environmental Protection, has failed to return work on the reclamation program to a rate of progress that would reasonably ensure completion of the program within not more than 6 months after the date of such deficiency notice from the Department of Environmental Protection or within not more than 6 months from the completion date established by the Department of Environmental Protection, whichever period is longer, then such reclamation program shall be permanently ineligible for purposes of reclamation refunds under this part.
(i) In determining a taxpayer’s compliance with completion dates specified by the Department of Environmental Protection for reclamation programs under this part, such completion dates shall be extended by the period of any delays attributable to causes beyond the reasonable control of the taxpayer.
(j) The obligation to reclaim under paragraph (a) shall run with the land and shall be enforceable against any person claiming a fee interest in the land subject to that obligation.
(k) The amendments by chapter 75-40, Laws of Florida, to paragraphs (d), (e), (f), and (g) shall apply to the balance in the Land Reclamation Trust Fund on July 1, 1975, regardless of the date the taxes were paid that gave rise to that balance and to refund claims filed on or after July 1, 1975, regardless of the date the reclamation costs were incurred on which the claim is based.