Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee Meeting

Thursday, February 17, 2000
14th FL Conference Room, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg
9:00 A.M.


Members in attendance: Jack Chamberlin; Wayne Crawford (alternate), George Ellis (alternate); Richard Fox (alternate), Sue Germanio (alternate); David Osikowicz (committee Chairman); Rep. Sam Smith; Mark Snyder, Bruce Tetkoskie (alternate), Fred Wolf, Mike Young (alternate).

Others in attendance: Dan Blaschak (mining industry); John Blaschak (mining industry); Rod Fletcher (DEP BAMR); Charlie Gutshall (counsel for Pennsylvania Anthracite Council); Bernie Hoffnar (DEP OPPCA); Robert Hughes (EPCAMR); Jeff Jarrett (BDMO); Harold Miller (DEP BMR); Billie Ramsey (ARIPPA); Bo Reiley (DEP Chief Counsel); Scott Roberts (DEP BMR); Natalie Shepherd (DEP MRM); Fred Sherfy (OSM); Evan Shuster (DEP BMR); Joe Sieber (DEP OPC); Pat Woods (DEP BMR).

Meeting Called to Order

The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. Chairman Osikowicz opened the meeting and introduced those in attendance. Twenty-seven people attended, including 12 MRAB board members and/or alternates, 10 DEP employees, and representatives of EPCAMR, ARIPPA, the Pennsylvania Anthracite Counsel, OSM and the mining industry.

At the January 6 MRAB quarterly board meeting, Scott Roberts, DEP Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, gave a presentation on the Department's conventional full cost bonding proposal. This proposal has created a great deal of interest within the mining industry and other stakeholders. At the end of Scott's presentation and the question and answer period, the board decided to refer the proposal to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee (Technical Committee) for a more detailed review.

The Technical Committee meeting was scheduled for January 27, 2000 but was postponed until February 17, one day after the second legislative hearing on this matter.

The committee wants to carefully review all the components of the proposal before making any recommendations to the full board. The board has requested the Department to defer any further action on the full cost bonding proposal until the board has had the opportunity to carefully consider the recommendations of the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee. The committee has agreed to meet as many times as necessary before the next full board meeting on April 27 so that they can make their recommendations to the full board. The board has invited Mr. Roberts and Bob Biggi of OSM to attend the meetings. Representatives of the surety industry are welcome to attend also.

Handouts for this meeting included the Draft Technical Guidance: Full Cost Bonding for Land Reclamation - Coal (Document Number 563-2504-001) and the Permit Forfeiture and Land Reclamation Status Report (for the period July 31, 1982 to November 30, 1999). Although the deadline for formal comments on the Draft Technical Guidance has not been established and the draft document has not been published under Policy Development Guidelines, the Department encouraged all stakeholders to submit comments as soon as possible. Comments received now will be considered for the draft document.

Many components of the full cost bonding proposal were discussed, including impact on the anthracite and bituminous regions, calculating the amount of bond, guaranteeing a bond, implementation, and the effect of post mining water discharges. Department staff were present to answer questions.

OSM (Federal Office of Surface Mining) had been asked to report to the committee at the January 6 MRAB meeting about OSM's national policy on bonding, what other states are doing, how OSM is addressing the problems in other states and how OSM deals with post mining discharge long-term financial guarantees. Mr. Robert Biggi, OSM-Harrisburg, who had agreed to address the committee on these topics, informed DEP on February 16 that he would not be attending. Mr. Fred Sherfy, OSM-Harrisburg, provided a status on OSM efforts on behalf of Mr. Biggi. OSM is still compiling information, the report is not available. The report should be ready for review in about two weeks (March 2, 2000). Mr. Sherfy explained the report will address, among other items, long-term discharges, long-term treatment standards, post forfeiture options, alternate financial assurance mechanisms and authority under SMCRA, using the AML Fund for insolvency issues, and how to ensure solvency.

The committee anticipates meeting at least once more before the next full board meeting on April 27. The committee decided to meet on March 17 in Indiana, PA (location to be announced).

Key Obligations:

  1. The Department was asked to critique the Draft Technical Guidance as it applies to new permits only.
  2. The Department was asked to determine the dollar amount needed to make the current fund solvent.
  3. The Department was asked to share the written responses to the questions posed at the Legislative Hearing on Wednesday, February 16.
  4. The Department was asked to prepare a synopsis of the Department's February 24 meeting with the Surety Companies in Pittsburgh.
  5. Even though the draft TGD is not officially out for comment, the Department again invited and encouraged written comments.


At 12:00 noon the meeting adjourned.