BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Brian Redmond, Chairman, Howard Laur, Walter Fike, Fred Wolf, George Ellis, Sue Wilson, Walter Heine.
DEP Staff present were: Leigh Cohen, Regualtory Counsel, Dave Hogeman, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation
The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m.
Minor changes to the MRAB Bylaws were proposed for amendment.
A discussion of how DEP should handle underground mining and noncoal/industrial mineral issues took place. A discussion was held on the following concerns:
A. Deep mining is currently represented only by the Office of Mineral Resources Management and Pennsylvania Coal Association
B. Deep mining may not want to be represented by an advisory board.
C. The MRAB does not include deep coal representatives and cannot represent the industry. It was also pointed out that the funding for the MRAB comes from SMCRA and therefore the Board cannot authorize non-coal operations.
D. Concern by the surface mining industry that if the role of the MRAB were expanded to include deep mining, the time that could be given to address surface mining issues would be diluted.
E. Because of the increase in longwall mining, the surface effects of deep mining (subsidence and drainage) are becoming a larger problem and some vehicle should be available to address these issues.
Any changes made to the MRAB will have to be done through legislation. It was the Committee's recommendation to seek the views of Secretary Seif and further discuss the matter with the full Board.
It was also decided that since noncoal surface mining is covered under the Aggregates Act, the Act would have to be changed if a noncoal board were to be set up or the Secretary could establish a committee, but members could not be added to the MRAB.
There was no further discussion.
There was considerable discussion on the issue of whether the Board should be involved in the areas unsuitable for mining process (UFM). Relevant discussion included:
A. The MRAB does not have the time or technical expertise to thoroughly review areas unsuitable for mining (AUFM) issues. The Committee felt that it would be better not to review these petition than to make a frivolous decision.
B. The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) was not qualified to make a recommendation on UFM's either, but if they do review petitions, it helps to keep the Dept. accountable.
C. The possibility of recommending the adjudicatory process for reviewing UFM petitions was discussed. If that process is adopted, it will then become important for the MRAB to review petitions because the EQB will not be involved in the process anymore.
The issue was tabled pending further discussion with the full board.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.