April 16, 1998
16th Floor Conference Room
Rachel Carson State Office Building

9:00 a.m.

Members Present: Dave Strong, Chairman; Mike Young; David Osikowicz; Jack Chamberlin; Sue Wilson;

Fred W. Wolf; Sue Germanio; John Ford.

Others in Attendance: Mark Killar, WPCAMR; Robert Hughes, EPCAMR; Alan Tamm, Alliance Environmental Services; Joe Pizarchik, Bureau of Regulatory Counsel; Bernie Hoffnar, Office of Pollution Prevention & Compliance Assistance; Joe Seiber, Office of Policy; Don Barnes, Bureau of District Mining Operations, Dave Hogeman, Gary Byron & Roderick Fletcher, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation; Paul Linnan & Ernie Giovannitti, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

The meeting was called to order at 9:05 a.m.

The minutes from the February 9 committee meeting were approved.

Reclamation Initiatives Update:

Based on prior input from the Board, some modifications have been made. Some of those changes include: the Net Environmental Gain concept was discontinued, any consideration of additional industry reclamation fees was dropped; and any additional taxes, i.e. property tax to support reclamation activities, will not be further developed. At the present, DEP staff is refining the program initiatives that will enhance and facilitate reclamation, as well as looking into activities that could involve the public. A decision has not been made as to when the project will be announced. Several of the initiatives have been identified as priorities for implementation. The initiatives presented to the board members that day were: Environmental Good Samaritan Legislation; Design-Based Standards for Remining Discharges; Government Financed Construction Contracts; Pa.’s Comprehensive Plan for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

Environmental Good Samaritan Legislation:

Gary Byron, BMR, provided a brief update on the status of the draft legislation. It is currently in the Governor’s office and will hopefully be introduced before the summer recess. The legislation is designed to encourage volunteer reclamation and water pollution abatement by limited civil and environmental liability. Landowners will not be responsible if the problem is made worse by the reclamation activities. Mine operators can also use the legislation, as long as they didn’t cause the pollution in the first place. At this point in time, there are no plans to include sites that have already been completed in the liability protection. As soon as the legislation is introduced the board members will be given a copy for their review.

Government Financed Construction Contract:

Don Barnes, BDMO, explained the basic principle behind this initiative. This contract will make it easier to perform AML reclamation at minimal or no government cost. The ideal site to be reclaimed would be one where there is not enough coal to remine to cover the cost of the permit. The 50% government-funding requirement would be eliminated, thus qualifying the projects as a GFCC. This proposal was submitted to OSM on November 19, 1997, as a request for a Title IV Program Amendment.

Design-Based Standards:

Don Barnes also presented this remining initiative to the committee members. This involves operator liability for pre-existing discharges that are encountered during remining. In the current Subchapter F & G requirements, an operator assumes perpetual treatment liability if a discharge is worsened during or after mining operations. In this initiative, a series of Best Management Practices (BMPs) would be incorporated into the permit site that has pre-existing discharges. These BMPs would serve to prevent additional discharges to downstream monitoring points. DEP staff feel that this initiative may target sites that would not be reclaimed by conventional permits because of the liability issue. A copy of the draft proposal was sent to EPA on October 30, 1997. An internal legal and policy analysis is being done.

After much discussion, the Committee decided to table the conversation until it could be presented to the Technical Committee.

There were many comments and suggestions made to DEP staff about the initiatives that were presented. Many members felt strongly that there should be more focus put on public participation by involving grassroots organizations and citizen action groups. They also felt it would be beneficial to do small demonstration projects in various watersheds to prove that the technology is viable, and therefore gain citizen support. A suggestion was made that a website about these initiatives should be developed to aid in the dissemination of information to the public.

The chairman requested more information on the initiatives that were discussed. It was decided that a joint meeting between the Ad Hoc Committee for Reclamation Issues and the Regulation, Legislation, & Technical Committee would be held. A more detailed discussion would be held at that time.

The updates on the Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory and the alternative proposal for the Reed/Strattanville sites was tabled until the full board meeting, scheduled for later today.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.