MINUTES
MINING AND RECLAMATION ADVISORY BOARD
December 12, 1996

 

Members present: Walter Heine, Chairman, Brian Redmond, John Ford, Fred Wolf, Steve Shrawder, Rep. Sam Smith, Jack Chamberlin, Mark Snyder, Sue Germanio, Sue Wilson, George Ellis, and Tony Ercole.

Also present were: Richard Parsons, Pottsville District Mining Office; Mike Getto, Evan Shuster, and Rod Fletcher, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation (BMR); Ernie Giovannitti, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR); Joe Pizarchik and Leigh Cohen, Office of Chief Counsel; Rod Kelley and Bob Dolence, Office of Mineral Resources Management (MRM); Nina Huizinga, Office of Policy; Alan Tamm of Gannett Fleming; and Duane Feagley, PA Anthracite Council.

The meeting was called to order at 12:30 p.m.

The minutes from the October 3, 1996, meeting were adopted.

Chairman Heine informed the board that a donation was made to the Kirkman Baptist Church in memory of board member Walter Fike, who passed away.

Deputy Secretary Dolence introduced Rod Fletcher as the new director for the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation.

Members decided that from now on, issues that are presented before the board will be discussed in general terms. By doing this, the board will not have to spend a lot of time on technical issues, and will be able to remain advisory in nature.

The chairman will now open the floor for discussion at the beginning of the meeting to anyone who comes from the public sector and wishes to address the board. Allowing a guest to speak first will prevent them from sitting through the entire meeting.

The Department is working on some remining issues. Mr. Dolence would like to see the board consider looking into these matters as they arise.

STATUS OF OBLIGATIONS:

There are no outstanding obligations at this time.

MEMBERSHIP TENURE:

Ten members of the board have memberships that will expire before the next meeting in April. The Office of MRM will prepare the appropriate letters to have these members reappointed.

Jack Chamberlin, the alternate for Mr. Fike, has requested to finish his term. In addition, he would like to be reappointed when the term expires. It was decided to hold elections for new officers in April when the new terms will begin.

POLICY & GENERAL ISSUES COMMITTEE:

The proposed changes to the by-laws were presented to the board for approval. A motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to accept the proposed changes.

REGULATION, LEGISLATION & TECHNICAL COMMITTEE:

The committee presented the proposed regulation, Water Supply Protection & Replacement, Chapters 87 and 88. Several changes had been discussed at committee level.

The first recommendation was to add the words reasonably available in front of "information" under the definition of water supply survey.

They also discussed the possibility of putting a waiver provision in Section 87.119 (a)(1), which would be subject to consent with recent case law. The issue of adding the words owner/user to the subject of water supply replacement was also mentioned. The water supply would need to be replaced, no matter who uses it. By putting waiver language in the regulation there is the possibility of OSM not approving it.

The board agreed with the recommendation of the committee to add permit block language in

Sec 87.119(I), consistent with PA SMCRA.

The board also felt that the language defining DE MINIMIS COST is confusing, and that further clarification may be needed or the intent of the regulation may be lost.

A motion was raised and seconded that the MRAB accept the regulation with the three amendments. The motion passed with 9 members in favor, 1 dissent and 1 member not voting.

Staff pointed out that the Department has the option to either accept or reject the changes recommended by the MRAB, depending on the legality of the issue. There will be several more opportunities to clarify the regulation before it is made final.

ALTERNATIVE FINANCING MECHANISMS

This document was presented to the MRAB for input. This state has a legacy of coal mining and the problem of who pays for the cost of treatment needs resolved. Due to better science, the incidence of AMD has decreased. However, bonds are no longer adequate because they don’t cover the long term costs of treatment.

The MRAB was given the first opportunity to review this document. Other stakeholders will have a chance for review at a later date. A motion was made for the MRAB to accept option 3, which is Public Funding. The motion was not seconded.

Since the energy bill was passed in the legislature, there will be a difference in the information the report provides. An "ad hoc" committee was formed to review the report and make a recommendation to the board based on the committee’s findings. Rep. Smith will be the chairman of the committee.

BLASTING PAMPHLETS

Mike Getto and Rich Parsons presented two pamphlets that are being prepared by the BMR. They will be used to inform the public about blasting. This will help to insure that correct information will be handed out to citizens and may help reduce the number of complaints received about blasting. The board suggested that maybe the pamphlets should be less technical and should provide more general information that the public will understand easier.

The next board meeting will be held on April 24, 1997.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:45 pm.

OBLIGATIONS FOR THE NEXT MEETING

1. A letter will be prepared for the Environmental Quality Board advising them of the recommendations the MRAB had for the proposed regulations.

2. The Office of MRM will work on reappointing the MRAB members whose terms will expire in order to have a full roster and to conduct elections in April.

3. Hold the "ad hoc" committee meeting to discuss the Alternative Financing report. The committee should have a recommendation for the April board meeting.

Susan Germanio for Representative Anthony L. Colaizzo, Walter E. Fike, John M. Ford, Walter N. Heine, J. Anthony Ercole for David D. Osikowicz, Ron Ramsey for Senator Eugene E. Porterfield, Brian Redmond, Pat Krommes for Senator James J. Rhoades, Steven D. Shrawder, George Ellis for

Mark A. Snyder, and Fred W. Wolf.

DEP staff present were Robert C. Dolence and Rodney L. Kelley, Office of Mineral Resources Management, Chris Allen and Nina Huizinga, Office of Policy and Communications, Peter T. Slack, Evan Shuster, and David C. Hogeman, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, and Ernest F. Giovannitti, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

KEY OBLIGATIONS FROM THE APRIL 25, 1996 MEETING:

1. A revised Concept Paper concerning beneficial use of coal ash will be mailed to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee by April 30 and will be followed up by a telephone call on May 6. The Concept Paper will again be revised and mailed to the full MRAB by May 10. Completed.

2. The Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee will make a recommendation on the Concept Paper at the July meeting unless a special meeting is called before July. Completed; a special meeting was held on May 29.

3. The MRAB will send letters to the EQB: a) reaffirming the MRAB approval of the remining and reclamation incentives; b) recommending approval of the Squaw Run UFM petition as unsuitable for mining; and c) recommending approval for final rulemaking of the Discretionary Criteria on Areas Unsuitable for Mining. Completed.

4. A copy of the Bureau of District Mining Operations proposals concerning the customer needs program will be given to members of the MRAB. Completed.

5. A copy of the final report from the field teams concerning the customer needs program will be given to the MRAB. Completed.

6. The July meeting will be held on July 10 and will be combined with a field trip through a deep mine on July 11. The date of the July meeting was changed to the 18th; the field trip was not held.

REGULATION, LEGISLATION AND TECHNICAL COMMITTEE REPORT:

FIELD TRIP TO UNDERGROUND MINE:

UNDERGROUND MINING:

BYLAWS AND DEP SUPPORT FOR THE MRAB:

DRAFT GUIDELINES ON ADVISORY BOARDS:

NON-COAL MINING ISSUES:

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR MINING RECLAMATION:

1. To update the abandoned mine land inventory.

2. To use an aerial approach. DEP wants to look at whole watersheds as well as areas where public water has been destroyed or diminished in order to address the entire problem. When reviewing subsidence or a mine fire, the idea is to consider the needs of an entire area instead of just a few homes.

3. Partnerships need to be formed. One of the groups involved in reclamation is the Corps of Engineers. They require a 50% match of money for a feasibility study and a 25% match for construction. There needs to be a way to help the local sponsors gain access to the Corps' money. By partnering with DEP or a private institution, a local community can get the assistance it needs to perform its work. By the same method, DEP can make its money stretch by uniting with the Corps and a local community.

4. The key element is the rehabilitation plan. This means DEP will look at all the problems in the watershed, even if it is not related to mining. The plan must have a well-defined goal and a timeframe.

5. The last element is a long-term financing plan.

ANNUAL REPORT:

UPDATE OF AREA UNSUITABLE FOR MINING PETITION - SHADE TOWNSHIP:

CONFERENCE CALL MEETINGS:

NEXT MEETING:

October 3.

ADJOURNMENT: