The meeting was called to order at noon by Vice
Chairman Brian Redmond.
Board members present:
Eric Carlson, Walter E. Fike, John M. Ford, Susan
Wilson for Walter N. Heine, Howard W. Laur, Michael Bower for
David Osikowicz, Brian Redmond, J. Anthony Ercole for Mark Snyder,
Fred W. Wolf, and Susan Germanio for Representative
John N. Wozniak.
DEP staff present were Robert C. Dolence and Rodney
L. Kelley, Office of Mineral Resources Management; Peter T. Slack
and Evan T. Shuster, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation;
Ernest F. Giovannitti, Office of Abandoned Mine
Reclamation; Nina Huizinga, Office of Policy; Jeff Jarrett,
Gary Byron, Sam Faith, and Scott Roberts, Bureau of District Mining
Operations; Joseph G. Pizarchik, Office of Regulatory
Counsel; and Bernard Hoffnar, Science and Technology Resources
Committee. Also present were Duane Feagley, Pennsylvania Anthracite
Council; Robert J. Biggi and Allen K. Klein, Office
of Surface Mining; and Robert F. Hasemeier, Gannett Fleming.
The minutes of the January 4, 1996 meeting were
John Ford was welcomed as a new member and offered
the opportunity to speak to the Committee Chairmen and participate
in one or both Committees.
KEY OBLIGATIONS FROM THE JANUARY 4, 1996 MEETING:
1. The Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee
will continue to work with DEP staff on changes to the beneficial
uses of coal ash regulations. The Committee is continuing
to do this.
2. DEP was asked to keep Mr. Heine and Mr. Kelley
informed about the customer needs project so they, in turn, could
keep Board members up to date. This is being done.
3. THE MRAB will participate in the customer needs
project process. A letter was sent out from the MRAB soliciting
input to the process.
4. The Board will draft a letter to the EQB to accept
the recommendations to the DEP with regard to the UFM Petition
No. 26949901 on Indiana Creek. Done.
5. DEP will discuss the draft final rulemaking on
Postmining Discharge/Licensing and Bonding with the Legislation,
Regulation and Technical Committee. This will be done.
6. The Board will look over the CAC Report on Public
Participation to see if it wants to discuss any part of it. Ms.
Wilson will discuss the CAC Report later in the meeting.
7. Mr. Heine will write an article about the MRAB
for the Update.This has not yet been done.
REGULATION, LEGISLATION AND TECHNICAL COMMITTEE:
Coal Ash Residual Waste Management Regulations:
Some needed changes to the regulations: 1)
clarifying beneficial uses, and 2) certification should be with
the site and not with the individual.
DEP also plans to develop a set of guidelines
on beneficial use of coal ash for mining and reclamation, and
an ash certification process.
The Committee asked that the regulations be put
on a fast track.
Revisions will be made to the Concept Paper and
mailed to the Committee by April 30. This will be followed by
a call on May 6. New revisions will then be made to the Concept
Paper, which will be mailed to the full Board so everyone will
have a copy by May 10.
All meetings of the MRAB and its Committees where
official business is to be conducted must be advertised under
the Sunshine Act. The MRAB may not conduct official business
by letter because the public would not have an opportunity to
be involved. The MRAB may conduct a meeting by conference call
if a speaker phone is provided in a conference room and the meeting
is properly advertised under the Sunshine Act and the public is
invited to participate.
A motion was made, seconded, and approved
that the Legislation, Regulation, and Technical Committee will
review the Concept Paper as soon as possible, assisted by DEP
staff, and be prepared to make a recommendation at the July meeting.
However, consistent with the Sunshine Act, if a recommendation
can be made sooner, a Special Meeting will be called.
Note: This was scheduled for May 29 via conference call.
Regulatory Basics Initiative for the Mining and
There were two concerns, one regarding forfeiture
and one regarding remining.
There was clarification that the mine operator
can select a consultant instead of DEP selecting one for him.
Proposed Rulemaking on Remining Incentives:
The Committee noted that the MRAB had previously
approved the remining and reclamation incentives at the July 7,
A motion was made, seconded and passed that
the MRAB send a letter to the EQB reaffirming its approval of
the remining and reclamation incentives.
Proposed Rulemaking on Licensing and Bonding:
A briefing was given on the proposed rulemaking,
which is prompted by changes to Act 173.
The Act requires licensing of underground miners.
DEP plans to relocate licensing of operators into Chapter 86,
the Department's general regulation for coal mining, so it will
cover both underground and surface mining operations.
The package deals mostly with bonding and post-mine
drainage treatments from surface mines. The bonding must provide
funds to treat discharges for at least 50 years.
There are two levels of treatments for post-mining
discharges. Technology-based treatment is a base-line treatment
that everyone must achieve. Water-quality-based treatment may
be more stringent on a case-by-case basis.
DEP would like to see some adjustment of technology-based
treatment requirements in order to encourage the use of passive
treatment systems because of their low cost and low maintenance
DEP is in the process of reviewing comments and
drafting a final rulemaking package to present to the MRAB at
a future meeting.
DEP is looking at the use of site-specific trust
Many comments were received asking DEP to revise
the wording regarding how to handle post-mine drainage passive
Squaw Run Petition:
Squaw Run is 450 acres located in Wayne Township,
A motion was made, seconded and approved that
the MRAB ask the EQB for final rulemaking on Squaw Run as unsuitable
for mining. A letter will be prepared to the EQB from the MRAB.
Proposed Rulemaking for Discretionary Criteria
- Areas Unsuitable for Mining:
A change was made to replace "mining activities"
with "mining operations."
Some proposed changes to the discretionary criteria
were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Some comments
were received questioning whether the concept of areas unsuitable
for mining should be applied to underground mining. It was decided
to ask OSM for an opinion.
A motion was made, seconded, and approved that
the MRAB recommend the Discretionary Criteria for final rulemaking
to the EQB. The MRAB will prepare a letter to the EQB.
Review of Executive Summary for Public Participation
The Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) looked at
strategies and principles for improving public participation.
DEP has prepared a policy for public participation,
which has been submitted for public comment.
DEP is developing advisory board guidelines.
The CAC has recommended having written by-laws and a citizen
chairperson, and also makes recommendations concerning agendas,
minutes, and pre-approvals. The MRAB is encouraged to review
the guidelines when they are available for comment.
CAC will look at public participation in permitting.
Customer Needs Project:
A letter was mailed out under the signature of
Chairman Heine to environmental groups and regional roundtables
to inform them about the customer needs project and solicit their
comments. One comment was received.
The CAC is working on a update of the conservation
directory, a list of all the environmental and conservation organizations
in the state, and will provide a copy to Mr. Jarrett.
The goal of the program is to 1) have the right
staff in the right place doing the right things,
2) implement changes in the DEP mining program based on
the needs of its customers, and 3) institutionalize
the process of continuous improvement in the mining program.
A work load analysis is being done. The district
offices have identified 75 tasks and are now determining how long
it takes to do each task in order to know how many people and
what occupations the district offices will need.
Roundtable meetings were held on six topics.
A draft report was done on March 1 followed by meetings with
OSM, Central Office, and Regulatory Counsel to work out disagreements.
The changes, implemented on April 25, gave more flexibility to
the field staff.
OSM has agreed to oversite areas of the program
that have changes, so that in 6 to 12 months a determination can
be made on how the program is working.
Scott Roberts, the Permits Chief in the Greensburg
District Office, is coordinating 70+ issues that were gotten from
staff. These were compared to the recommendations done by customers.
There were many similarities. A recommendation on how to proceed
was prepared two weeks ago.
A proposal for immediate action was public participation
reform. Specific proposals to be evaluated include public outreach
and education. The Bureau of District Mining Operations (BDMO),
among other things, is doing more work with schools and other
groups, mine site tours, and getting more advantageous press coverage.
Another proposal dealt with improved interaction
between citizens and the Department and better communications
with mine operators and consultants. It is planned to meet with
the CAC to get a better understanding of their Executive Summary
and of how they came up with their targets and understanding their
strategies and trying to use those to design this program.
BDMO needs better pamphlets for citizens to use
to explain DEP's processes. For instance if a permit is requested
near houses, the home owners need to know what DEP does and how
DEP does it.
There is a proposal to make the BDMO permit files
electronically available to the public.
There are some quality-of-life issues -- issues
over which DEP has no regulatory authority. BDMO will examine
them and make sure everyone knows which issues DEP can deal with
and which ones it can't. An independent mediation service will
be developed to allow communications between a mine owner and
A second group of proposal needing immediate
action include underground mining and mine subsidence. A meeting
is planned on May 7 with Pennsylvania Coal Association to discuss
a data base on subsidence and advertising the mine subsidence
Teams are being organized to work on a more organized
approach to wetlands and requirements to land use changes.
A data base of customers is being developed.
A rewriting of all the proposals is being done.
A copy will be given to members of the MRAB.
An analysis is being done concerning how the
proposed changes will impact the program. The target date is
The roundtable meetings had been criticized because
some organizations complained they were excluded and others felt
the balance at the meetings was wrong because there might have
been more coal operators than environmental groups.
Eric Carlson, John Ford, Walter Heine and Howard
Laur of the CAC will be working with BDMO on a regular basis on
public participation issues.
The final report from the field teams will be
printed and made available to the MRAB.
New PGMs will be written and sent out for public
The MRAB was urged to work with and provide leadership
Update on 10% Set Aside:
This is a provision of the federal act that allows
us to take 10% of our grant money each year and set it aside for
abatement of acid mine drainage.
The Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR)
gets the 10% money at the beginning of the year and puts it in
an interest-bearing account. The rest of the grant money is given
to BAMR as it is needed. There is currently $8 million in the
account; $4 million is committed.
There are three projects moving through the bidding
process. Construction should begin in the fall.
The program is assigned to two full-time people
in the field office, who are totally funded from the 10% set-aside
BAMR will allow people to apply for funding but
will also work with watershed associations to pick projects that
A concern is if the system is built on private
property and should fail, is the property owner responsible.
BAMR needs to assure the property owner that he is not going to
be liable so he allows BAMR to build on his property.
Another concern is who pays for the long-term
operation and maintenance of the treatment plants. Under the
agreements written to date, the local governments or watershed
associations have agreed to handle the long-term operation and
In the long-term BAMR will be faced with the
operational costs of the projects. Funding sources will need
to be identified. Hopefully the proposed Mine Water Treatment
Trust Fund will be available.
Wetlands and Mine Subsidence:
A letter written by Mr. Laur on behalf of POWER
- Western Pennsylvania was handed out.
A subsidence in Greene County that filled with
water is being declared a wetland and eventually will be turned
over to the State.
The State pays $1.20/acre in taxes. This is
an erosion of the local tax base. The average tax is $59/acre.
SB 955 is attempting to address the erosion-of-tax-base
issue. Representative DeWeese will introduce legislation in the
House on April 29 to amend Act 54 to allow municipalities and
land owners, adjacent to a coal company, to file claim against
the coal company. Also BDMO will be
working with OSM to address these issues.
A report is due to the Legislature five years
after Act 54 takes affect. This report will be circulated to
interested parties for comment.
A motion was made, seconded, and passed that
the next meeting of the MRAB will be combined with a field trip
through a deep mine in Greene County.
A motion was made, seconded, and passed to
have the MRAB meeting start at noon on July 10 with the field
trip on July 11.
Upon motion duly made and seconded the Board
adjourned at 2:10 p.m.