D R A F T

MINING AND RECLAMATION ADVISORY BOARD

Thursday, April 27, 2000
Delaware Room, 16th Floor, RCSOB
Harrisburg, PA

 

Members in attendance: Fred Wolf, Chairman; Rep. Sam Smith; Dave Mankamyer; Sue Wilson (alternate); Lisa Mahall; Pat Krommes (alternate); John Ford; Walter Heine; David Osikowicz; Sue Germanio (alternate); Mark Snyder; Jack Chamberlin; Richard Fox (alternate); Mike Young (alternate); George Ellis (alternate); David Strong; Bruce Tetkoskie (alternate).

Others in attendance: Bob Biggi (OSM Harrisburg), George Rieger (OSM Pittsburgh), John Blaschak (Fisher Mining), Charlie Gutshall (PAC), Dan Blaschak (PAC), Gary Camus (PA Game Commission), Bill Capouillez (PA Game Commission), Robert Hughes (EPCAMR), Billie Ramsey (ARIPPA), Steve Rhoads (Pennsylvania Environmental Reporter), Kurt Weist (PennFuture), Michael Smith, Roderick Fletcher, Joel Pontorero, Robert Dolence, Jeffrey Jarrett, Ted Kopas, Scott Roberts, Evan Shuster, Joel Ponterero, Richard Beam, Bo Reiley, Marc Roda, Joe Pizarchik, Joe Sieber, Alice Ballent.

Meeting Called to Order

The meeting was called to order at 10:10 a.m. Chairman Wolf opened the meeting and asked that all Board members and alternates sitting around the table introduce themselves. He then asked others in the room to introduce themselves and sign the attendance sheet that is being passed around.

The first order of business was to accept the minutes of the January 6, 2000 board meeting. Walter Heine moved that the minutes be accepted. It was seconded by John Ford. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

The second order of business was to adopt the Executive Summary Minutes for January 6, 2000. Mark Snyder moved that the Executive Summary be adopted. It was seconded by David Osikowicz. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Reappointment of Walter Heine and John Ford as Members of MRAB (Chairman Wolf)

The reappointment of Water Heine and John Ford as members of MRAB for another two-year term was brought before the Board. Chairman Wolf asked for a motion to reappoint these two members. David Mankamyer moved to reappoint them to the Board for another two-year term. It was seconded by Mark Snyder. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Appointment of Wayne Crawford, Richard Fox and Bruce Tetkoskie as Alternates of MRAB (Chairman Wolf)

The appointment of Wayne Crawford, Richard Fox and Bruce Tetkoskie as alternates of MRAB. Chairman Wolfe asked for a motion to appoint these gentlemen as alternates. John Ford moved to appoint them to the Board as alternates. It was seconded by Sue Wilson. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Appointment of Alternate for David Mankamyer (Chairman Wolfe)

Chairman Wolfe submitted a letter to Mr. Mankamyer to have an alternate in his place in case he cannot attend the meeting. Mr. Mankamyer reported that the alternate will be made by the State Conservation Commission, probably at their next meeting. If they donít, by the next meeting, Mr. Mankamyer will appoint a temporary alternate. When the alternate is named, Mr. Mankamyer is forward the name to the Chairman and Mineral Resources Management.

Committee Reports

Ad Hoc Committee on Reclamation Issues (Presenter Dave Strong, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Reclamation Issues):

Although the Ad Hoc Committee did not meet and had no official business to report, Mr. Strong expounded on several points. He stated the Bark Camp Mine Reclamation Laboratory is looking really good. Mr. Strong asked Rod Fletcher to give the Members a quick update and the status of the new dredge that may be coming in. We are still in the process of making final arrangements for the area. There is some maintenance and preparation activity on the site. It looks promising that we may have more dredge material coming into the site this summer.

A question was asked if there is any chance that we can work on the deep mine fill. There were two issues there where we want to do surface fill using the dredge material which is working wonderfully and the analysis looks great and then there was a proposal that we really want to work on deep mine fill also. Bob Dolence stated that the underground reclamation is still on the agenda but our focus clearly has been demonstrating safe use of dredge materials and ash materials for surface reclamation.

The Department is continuing discussions with the Corps of Engineers for materials that they have in their Port Mifflin disposal site down on the Delaware. It is materials have has already been dewatered and we are actually going through a testing/sampling protocol right now to test that material to see if meets our standards for use in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Strong raised that in light of Growing Greener and Reclaim PA and some of the monies that are available, we are seeing some groups out there that would like to do projects using these types of materials and we realize that we wanted to study this for five years, the data is looking excellent and we have not done the underground stuff. Can we, at least, make some plans to start doing the deep mine work somewhere in the State, if not Bark Camp, somewhere we can study it, so that by the time we get the studies done, Growing Greener will be done. We can start exploring that aspect of it on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee. The deep mine issue is really interesting in wanting to use this material. In the long run, it can save the Commonwealth billions of dollars in reclamation costs. Mr. Dolence said that Mr. Strongís point is well taken and he knows that Mr. Strong is very engaged in the safe fill policy that is being developed. Mr. Fletcher has met with Jim Snyder, from Waste Management, on these issues and he had met with Denise Chamberlain and Jim himself and we are keeping the programs cross-talking to make sure what our needs are and they are moving forward and we can meet their safe fill requirements.

Mr. Strong noted that in the April 21 Update, there was an article about Reed-Strattonville. It looks like that is moving forward. Mr. Fletcher noted that since it was discussed, about six months ago, the Department has decided to issue a RFP to receive proposals. After going through that process, we received one proposal, which was we determined was not acceptable. So, we went back to the drawing board. We decided that it would be appropriate for the Department to come up with its own design proposal. The proposal got favorable reception. Essentially, the proposal calls for us to divert some of the water on site and then take some steps to improve the quality and monitor it for about six months. It was asked where the funds were coming from to undertake this project. We are using forfeiture bond money. Final design is due by the end of the summer.

Mr. Strong noted that we will have a live computer presentation on the reclamation clearinghouse later today. He thanked the Department for the presentation. He thought that this would be the basis for a lot of help in the reclamation area. There have been several Growing Greener grant proposals to do the same things and build on that platform and he is glad to see that the Department has come out with it before those kind of things actually hit the ground. We will wait to see that and will have comments on that later.

Annual Report Committee (Presenter Mike Young, Chairman, Annual Report Committee): Chairman Mike Young noted that the members should have received copies of the Annual Report. We have not met since the last MRAB meeting, but we appreciate everyoneís work and effort in putting the Report together. The final report is available and should have been distributed to the members.

Policy Committee (Presenter Mark Snyder, Chairman, Policy Committee): The Policy Committee has not met since the last MRAB meeting and does not have a report at this time.

Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee (Presenter Dave Osikowicz, Chairman, Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee): Chairman Osikowicz reported at the last meeting of the MRAB, the board was given presentation on full cost bonding for surface mine activities in Pennsylvania. The Regulatoin, Legislation and Technical Committee was assigned the task by the full Board to ascertain the effect of full cost bonding on reclamation that is being done in this State. Committee Chair Osikowicz emphacized reclamation because that also has to do with mining, in terms of remining and the amount of area that is being reclaimed by active surface mine operators today as part as part of the active mining process due to the various incentives that the State has offered. At that point, the Chairman gave the task to this committee to work out all the details and attempt to make a recommendation to the full MRAB today. We started out with a few assumptions. The first assumption was that a healthy and vibrant surface coal industry in Pennsylvania leads to more free reclamation.

With that assumption in mind, Iíve summarized four different areas of concern. First of all, we wanted to attempt to look at the full cost bonding proposal to see that there was a fair and equitable engineering and methodology for its implementation so that there were not undue strain put on either the Department or the operators through its implementation. Secondly, there was concern on how existing permits where both time and capital have been committed and how those permits would be transitioned into the full cost bonding from the current system that is in existence. Third, would be the reaction of the surety industry. And fourth, the effect that full cost bonding would have on remining incentives that are currently offered by the State and how they could be continued under implementing full cost bonding.

To go back to number one, fair and equitable engineering and methodology. We have made tremendous progress in finding solutions on the types of methodology that would be imposed upon industry and with the understand that, even after the MRAB makes a recommendation to go ahead with full cost bonding, it is the Departmentís intention to go through draft policy and take additional comments on that implementation. So, even though a tremendous amount of progress has been made, there are a few items that have not been tied down as tight as we would like to have them, but that draft policy procedure is still yet to be gone through. We feel, at this point, that that is ready to go forward.

Jumping to our third concern Ė the reaction of surety industry and also leave in the transition of existing permits and maintaining the remining incentives. We have met four or five times as a committee and the Department and a few of those meetings were reasonably pretentious, but the Department deserves credit for working very diligently and overtime to develop possible ways of getting over these hurdles.

Basically, there are the four white papers and these four white papers rely on a lot of things that are out of control, not only with the committee, but with this whole board for implementation that we feel they made great strides into addressing the issues that Iíve just enumerated.

The first of the white papers is on full cost bonding transition assistance program. It would be a way of assisting existing permits to make the transition into the full cost bonding program. There has been a presentation by the Department that if you lump all of the existing permits into one kettle about 50% of them would not drastically change from the amount of bond that is there now. In about 25%, the bond would actually go down from what is required. An additional 25%, just by the type of mining and type of geographic situation that you have and the type of equipment that you would use, that bond would drastically increase. What this program would do would have a transition period and have a way of assisting those permits to go into full cost bonding.

As far a reaction to the surety industry, there are two white papers associated with this. One is a general bond program and the other is the maintenance bond program. Through meetings with the surety industry that the Department has had and input from the operator with their existing sureties, those two programs would greatly enhance not only the ability, but the desire for the surety industry to write bonds in Pennsylvania.

Last, but definitely not the least, perhaps it should have been the first, are maintain remining incentives in the State of Pennsylvania, because that is really what this Board is associated with. One of the white papers directly addresses that issue and how can we continue assist operators to do remining and more so how can we keep full cost bonding from being a disincentive to remining on previous mined areas. With this white paper, the Department has been very innovative into weaving the industry funded abandoned mine land funds and the allotment that OSM gives the Department, or Title IV, and the Department has made a recommendation that by being able to use those Title IV funds, before forfeiture, to be able to provide incentives by backing bonds for operators to perform remining and reclaim these AML sites at no cost to the tax payers.

This was kind of a thumbnail sketch of those four programs, but to kind of tie it all together, the committee, at this point, thinks that there is great potential in those four programs. But, two of the programs can be done with inhouse funds, one of the programs, it appears, that it would take an infusion of money into that program, not only to enable that program, which would be the transition program, but also to fund the deficit that is in the existing ABS. The remining incentives would require an interpretation from OSM on the use of the Title IV funds. At this point, and for one other reason that Iíll bring up a little later, it the consensus of the committee not to make a recommendation to the full Board today. If we were to make a recommendation, we felt that we would have to tie that recommendation to not only requiring the necessary funds, but also to getting the proper assurances from OSM on the Title IV funds before the committee could make a recommendation to the full MRAB that we were comfortable that full cost bonding would not be a disincentive to provide free reclamation in Pennsylvania. So, if we were to make a recommendation, it would definitely be tied to those two things. It was also discussed, at the committee meeting, that these four white papers would be offered to all the members of the MRAB so that each one of those members would feel more comfortably with what the recommendation of the committee would be. So, in light of the fact that we have elected not to make a recommendation, there is another issue that the full Board needs to take under consideration. I was copied, as the Chairman of this committee, on a letter from Senator Rhoades to Bob Dolence as a direct baring on this recommendation and, at this point, gave the floor over to Pat Krommes, who in Senator Rhoades alternate.

Ms. Krommes read a statement from and as directed by Senator Rhoades. Copies of the Senatorís April 25, 2000 letter were handed out (see attached). Fundamentally, some believe there are statuatory provisions between the anthracite and bituminous industries and that there is not a distinction between the two in the FCB program. Besides asking the committee delay making a recommendation to the full Board on the effects of full cost bonding, he requested a meeting be held between himself and Bob Dolence.

Mr. Osikowicz wanted the full Board to take Senator Rhoades recommendation not act on FCB today. He also wanted the Board to know that the committee members worked very hard to try and make this timetable and, assuming that there is going to be a meeting between Senator Rhoades office and the Department, that in light of the fact the amount of work that is done, the benefits of full cost bonding and some of these other remining incentives could benefit the environment as well as the industry. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, rather than waiting another three months until we have our next MRAB meeting, if the Chair would consider a suggestion that not only the full MRAB meet to address this issue, not only for this Board, but for the Department, but if we do that then I would suggest that my committee meet a few hours beforehand so that we would be ready to make a recommendation to the full Board.

Mr. Dolence asked if he could address the Board. He stated that it is the Departmentís intention to honor Senator Rhoadesí request. To the point of the letter, those who counsel there is a federal anthracite bonding exemption are not quite on target. The federal regulations give deference to Pennsylvania state law regarding anthracite bonding. FCB is founded in state law and regulation for anthracite and bituminous coal mining. To address the meeting request, we will continue what we have done since announcing full cost bonding; we have availed ourselves to the Board and any other entities who have requested an opportunity to sit down with us to discuss this important program. Many have taken us up on this offer; from individual operators, to consultants, the MRAB full Board and its committee. We have repeatedly invited input, discussion, dialog and will continue to honor that commitment. I am personally, as well as the Department, disheartened of the 11th hour letter and feel that the Senator may not have had timely nor the best counsel regarding this issue. What we have proposed falls purely under state law doing what is best for the Commonwealth keeping in mind the balance of energy and the environment, but with that intent we will meet with Senator, and whomever else he invites to that meeting.

Mr. Snyder mentioned that the Board requested some information from OSM regarding what is going on in the rest of the Country, under full cost bonding, and that type of thing. He thinks that we should, as a Board, hear some of that information prior to acting on full cost bonding. Mr. Snyder isnít sure what Mr. Dolenceís timetable, but we shouldnít put the cart before the horse, too far. We have been waiting on that information. He asked Chairman Osikowicz if the committee has had a report from OSM, or would that be wrong. He commented that they have had reports at most of the committee meetings but not an answer to all the questions. A lot of the comments are awaiting decisions from higher up in terms of other states, federal monies and those things. It has not been definitive yet to Chairman Osikowiczís knowledge.

Mr. Biggi was asked to comment. He stated that at the committee he did present some information on the status of what OSM is doing in other states. Primarily, there are two things going on, and he will go over them very briefly. One is, we have awarded a contract with Tetratech form Reston, Virginia to look at the whole idea of financing long-term AMD treatment. There are three parts to that contract The first thing we asked was for them to look at how you calculate AMD treatment costs, because that is a very significant part of bonding of AMD treatment. The second thing was is to look at if all of our instruments might be more favorable than traditional bonding like surety bonds to finance long term treatment while Pennsylvania is using trust funds Ė it is one option other than traditional bonds. We asked Techratech to look at other mechanisms to finance long term treatment. The third thing we asked Techratech to do was to look at whether there was broader coverage besides individual sites-specific financing, sort of like a master trust fund concept that you could use in case individual permitees were not able to finance their long term treatment costs. We expect that all of the reports from Techratech will be done within the next month. We have draft reports. That contract is pretty much finished.

The other thing we were doing and reported to the committee on was that we are, in OSM, developing an AMD inventory of all AMD sites in the Nation. In our Region, we have finished the first cut of the regional inventory. It includes West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. We have years to use the information that we get from Techratech on how to calculate long-term treatment costs, how to finance those things. With the AMD inventory, we get a handle on the scope of the problem and proceed to deal with those cases where there is no long-term treatment out there. So that is where OSM is. We expect, over the next several months, we will be dealing with that issue in all of the states. Mr. Wolf asked what the time frame would be. Mr. Biggi stated that we are fast approaching the point where we will be dealing with those individual operators. There are eight permits in Tennessee with long term treatment on them. So our plan in to begin dealing with those sites in the near future so I think over the next six months, or so. Our original target was over the next six months, by September, to begin to deal with that and all the other things.

Mr. Snyder asked the second question. What is the timing. We know you have a court case that you are trying to defend but what is the timing of the Department on this full cost bonding implementation. Mr. Jarrett stated that if we continue to have further meetings that rely on federal determinations to be made, we can never project a start point and maybe that is what some members of the Board would like to hear. Our goal is looking at the year 2000 for implementation and keep in mind that there is a little bit or apples and oranges going on. Mr. Dolence was talking about the long term water treatment aspects where totals of full cost bonding addresses bonds required up front and its land reclamation and if water would come up later, that is addressed in the Program Guidance, but the long term studies are dealing with related but not a direct impact on a full cost.

The Board did ask OSM to give us some information regarding what the active bonding is in the various states. We havenít seen anything yet, to date, as to what is going on elsewhere. We do have to compete with other states as far as coal sales. Mr. Dolence stated that is our position on full cost to have equity between the states as well as within the state and as far as the apparent flaw in the system, it has been discussed at great length. Instead of waiting on someone else, Mr. Dolence thinks that we can pool together the information on the other states. He asked Mr. Roberts about this and Mr. Roberts stated that we have some, but he will pull something together for the full Board to look at in comparison as to what their programs are verses what full cost fee as a comparison. Mr. Dolence thinks that the main concern of the Board is the equity that Pennsylvania industry is not put in a competitive disadvantage because of program decision. We will take a look at those programs in the other states and the state has great impact. The Ohio River Basin has not yet entered into the market of Pennsylvaniaís markets, but we will certainly look at West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Mr. Wolf feels that we do have to move along with the concept. A lot has been accomplished by those that were involved as the committee Chairman stated. Each time that we meet, we seem to agree on some of the things that are happening, not agree with the mining industry, but we have to look at it on the overall concept. Chairman Wolf thanked Scott Roberts, Jeffrey Jarrett, Rod Fletcher and Bob Dolence who worked hard, along with the committee and come up with some areas. Now if we can continue to meet and refine them and reduce them and eliminate those that we agree on, them we would probably be down to OSMís participation. He thought that that would probably be one of the last ones. He asked Mr. Ellis to shed some like on this. Mr. Ellis stated that we have done a lot, up to this point, as far as getting everything together, working with DEP and for our next meeting we will start narrowing down things more and more. That is the only way Mr. Wolf thinks that is the only way we can approach this Ė chip away at it.

Mr. Ellis asked Mr. Biggi about the status of Title IV eligibility. Mr. Biggi stated that he and George Rieger went to D.C. last week and met with OSM headquarters on the proposal, as we understood it. As a result of that meeting, we asked Mr. Jarrett to put it in writing for us. Today, he handed Mr. Biggi a two-page outline of their proposal. Mr. Biggi will take it back to the office for review.

Mr. Osikowicz stated we delayed making a recommendation to the full Board for two reasons: (1) to address Senator Rhoades issues and (2) to get the white papers will be distributed to all members of the MRAB. He thinks the issue we need to resolve is do we wait until the July meeting to meet again before the MRAB. If we do, then I request that my committee meet two hours beforehand. If we choose to, my recommendation would be to meeting in the interim. So the issue is, do we meet in the interim or do we wait until July. Mr. Roberts will schedule a meeting with Sue Wilson to discuss her concerns on the white papers. Mr. Heine asked if we would have time to analyze all this information that may come in from DEP on the Title IV money and all of these other things. Is two hours before the full Board meeting enough time for the committee to make a recommendation to the Board. Mr. Osikowicz stated that the committee has pretty well, except for a few outstanding issues, completed the analysis, and, except for Senator Rhoadesí letter and the desire for members of the committee to have the full Board look at everything, our work is pretty well completed.

Mr. Snyder had a question on funding some of these things. Does that require legislation? Mr. Osikowicz stated that two of the programs appear to have money in house, one of the programs would require a request for a general appropriation. Representative Smith stated that there are two of the four that would conceivably require a change in the law. Mr. Snyder noted that there are a lot of "what ifs" if the Legislature doesnít approve this, then the entire package is going to take a different route and impact the industry in different ways. How is the Board going to make a recommendation without some assurances that the entire package is going to move ahead as a single entity. Mr. Osikowicz stated that the committee decided to try and approach it to try and solve as many of the problems as we could and then try to make the implementation contingent upon those other things being resolves. Conditional. This has been done in the past with regulations. A conditional support of the regulations in this item is addressed. It was noted that eventually this will fall on the Legislatures shoulders, but not until, we in the Department, figure out what proposal you actually want us to present. Then the Legislature will take it and amend it and work with it and work the Department and the Administration, as needed. So, the Board needs to give the Department direction so then the Department can, in turn, work with the Legislature. This involved a lengthy discussion.

It was discussed about holding a special meeting, before the regular Board meeting in July, for the committee and the full Board, in order for the committee to make a decision about a recommendation to the Board. David Osikowicz made the motion that we have an interim meeting of full MRAB on June 8. It was seconded by David Mankamyer. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

David Osikowicz made the motion that we request that the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee meet two hours prior to the full MRAB meeting on June 8 in Harrisburg. It was suggested that since the full Board is going to be meeting on this issue, the full Board meet in the afternoon and the committee meet in the morning. David Osikowicz changed his motion to reflect that the full Board meet at 1:00 p.m. and the committee meeting start at 10:00. It was suggested that the committee meet at 9:00. There was a discussion about the date. The date conflicted with another meeting. The date was changed to June 7, 9:00 in Harrisburg and the full Board meeting will be at 1:00 on the same day (location to be determined).

Growing Greener Activities (Presenter David Hess, Deputy Secretary for Policy and Communications)
The latest copy of the Update (April 21, 2000) was passed out for the Boardís information. The Growing Greener passed in December. All toll, it is a $646 million, or so, five-year program to invest in cleaning up Pennsylvania, in the way of grants to protect and restore watersheds and clean up pollution from abandoned mines. It will also improve our sewer and water infra structure in the state. We got off to a pretty fast start. We had an open application period that ended February 11, for the first round of grants for this fiscal year. We had $37.5 million, and some change, to give out as our piece toward that protection and non-point source pollution abatement projects for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. We were sweating it out a little bit in the yearly part of the year, before that February 11 deadline, wondering if we would get good projects submitted in the application process, and boy did we ever! We got over 800 applications before February 11, and we got many good projects submitted and they covered many of the different kinds of projects we were funding in the first round (watershed assessment, restoration projects of all different types, and education programs that just really ran the gambit. We were very pleased with the first round of applications. In addition to that, we also funded some abandoned mine reclamation projects and some oil and gas plugging projects with some of our money. Again, for our particular piece, we had $37.5 million to spend and we have obligated almost all of that so far this fiscal year. On April 21, the Governor announced that the majority of what is left of our money, in terms of allocating it to projects, there are over 226, or so, that we have funded, all tolled, so far, about 40 percent of the projects deal with mine reclamation issues in one way or another, which we were very pleased about, because mine reclamation is a big part of the water quality issue in Pennsylvania. We were glad to put money behind those projects. There is a rundown in the April 21 Update the bulk of the projects that were funded this year. We expect to open up another round of grant applications in late May, which will have an August 15, or so, deadline. We are very pleased with the results of the first round of Growing Greener. I think we also learned a lot during the application process. Our people, frankly, busted their buts to get the projects out there to evaluate all the applications. Just to give you an idea, we had three pairs of eyes look at each application from the Field Office or District Mining perspective, as well as internally. So to get through 800 applications, and have three pairs of eyes look at each application to evaluate them and then rank them, was a very big deal for our folks. But, what it also meant, was that we couldnít fund all the good projects that we got in the first round, because we only had $37.5 million to allocate. We clearly got more than that. Those 800 applications amounted to over $230 million worth of projects. Clearly, we have some good projects in the pipeline that are yet to be funded. We did kick some obvious applications that really didnít meet the criteria. One example that I always use is that one Borough wanted to buy a fire truck with the money. We thought that was clearly out of bounds, although they made a good argument. They said the new fire truck will use foam, not water, so there would be less runoff. That was very creative thinking. One County wanted to use nothing less than about $50 million to extend their airport. We thought no, that didnít quite make it. So, there are a number of things we got in that just didnít quite make it. We do have a lot of good projects yet to be funded. We anticipate the General Assembly giving us another chunk of money for the new fiscal year. We have about $50.5 million starting July 1, we hope, if the General Assembly gives us that money, to spend on these projects. We hope to put out another grant award list in July, with some of the leftover projects that were still good that we could get to with the applications we have on hand. There is a lot going on. For us, these are a lot of projects to manage. There are over 450 project altogether, just in this first grant round. We can anticipate another 400 to 500 for next year, as well. Just the administrative job in managing that many projects is going to be interesting for us, but we have divided that up. We have project advisors, in each of our Regional Offices and District Mining Offices. We are bringing the successful grant awardees in for training, so that they understand what they need to do, so that the process is very smooth in terms of getting invoices from them and, in turn, reimbursing them for their costs. We are really applying some of the lessons we learned over the last two or three years with some of our pilot projects that we have been able to fund. Again, there are always bumps, there are always glitches in running something like this and we expect them along the way, but, generally, I think the first round have gone very well. We are making adjustments for the second round, and again, I think from a mine reclamation standpoint, we are putting a lot of money out there in projects that will clean up some mining problems all across the state. For some of you that got on our web site over the weekend, we talked about our distribution. We did spread the money around, but were also very careful to put in watersheds where it was going to have the most impact. Of course, that was one of the things that we looked at. There were only seven counties that didnít get any funding at all. Some of those were primarily because they didnít apply for any funding. We are very please with the distribution of the money and the impact. We expect to reclaim 800 acres of mine land and improve about 270 miles of stream. We do about 1,000 through our regular state funded program right now.

One of the things that we stressed with these projects, was partnership. Partnership in terms of not only people you are dealing with locally, but also matching money. This last round that the Governor announced last week totaled about $26 million in state funding. That, in match, attracted a little over $45 million in additional money, because of local match or other match money that project sponsors brought to the table. We thought that was absolutely tremendous. So, for every buck we put in, in terms of the state, we got maybe a buck and a half, in attracted match money. Again, that was something that was absolutely terrific. I donít know if we can do that in future grant rounds, but that is something we very much stressed in this first round in terms of projects. We didnít make match an absolute requirement, but that was obviously evidence of local partnership folks getting together. People creatively bringing all sorts of money together to match with the stateís money. Again, that was a great aspect of the first round of grants. Donít forget, I donít know if we will be able to do that in every round, but that was, I think, a really good start.

Again, next fiscal year we will have $50.5 million to spend in this program and we look forward to getting some other good applications in, as well as, doing some other BAMR projects and things that need to be done.

Mr. Wolf asked if there would be an evaluation at the end of the work to be accomplished Ė how good it was or how it faired out. Mr. Hess stated that we are going to do an evaluation as it goes along. One of the emphases we had, and you can tell by some of the statistics, is that we want to be able to demonstrate what the real environmental benefit of this money is. That is one thing we stressed in the application, that the folks had to think about, in measuring their project, if it was a restoration project or something like that, was what the environmental benefit was going to be and how they were going to measure it. Was it going to be water sampling, was it in acres, was it in miles of stream buff, or what it had to be. They had to give us an estimate of what that benefit was going to be. Clearly, in some of these cases, we are going to be funding projects in some watersheds, the Blair County project comes to mind, where we are going to very nearly get all of the mine reclamation work done in that watershed with this money, and probably the next round of money, in a particular watershed. We expect to be able to do that with a lot of other watersheds, as well. That is something we are stressing. They will have two years to spend this money and we are going to get quarterly reports through our project advisors to make sure people are on track with their progress. We are going to set up measures early for these projects and then carry them through. There will be field inspections. Because we are dealing with a number of different kinds of applicants, we have county conservation districts, we have school districts, in some cases, we have colleges, we have watershed associations, we want to try and give them as much help as possible in doing these projects and keeping them on track. One of the problems we have at times, with some of our other grant programs, recycling is one, where we very proudly give people a chunk of money to do recycling work, and they have, in that case, up to three years to spend the money (and we are looking to trimming that back) and they never get to spend the money. For one reason, or another, they never spend all of our money. We donít want that to happen with these grants. We want to keep a very close tab on what they are doing and give them help in they need it, but try to manage the process.

One other thing that is in our budget request for next fiscal year, if for an additional 18 watershed coordinators for the Department to help out in that management process. One additional item is that one of the commitments we had with county conservation districts through this process was to fund watershed specialists with county conservation districts. We will be able to fund 45 (it will be announced this week) watershed specialists with county conservation districts across the state at the county conservation district level, to provide some more hands-on assistance for these projects and other kinds of projects. Basically, every single county that asks for one, or group of counties, which was another good thing, some counties went together and submitted joint applications. Pieces are falling into place pretty nicely.

Mr. Young asked Mr. Hess a question on the AML pieces of the puzzle falling into place in the first round of grants Ė this Board has been interested in how remining can be encouraged, particularly through Growing Greener. It is possible that we could get a further report on that particular aspect in the next round of grants on how remining might be encouraged through the use of Growing Greener. Mr. Hess stated that some of that might come out as well in some of the watershed assessment work we are funding. Some of the watershed assessment work that we funded through the difference rounds of grant announcements are, hopefully, going to identify some of those remining opportunities. Mr. Hess hopes that when you get into assessing what needs to be done in a watershed, you would naturally get into. Mr. Young wondered if it would be possible to get a report, at a future meeting of the MRAB. Mr. Hess noted that it would be possible to the extent that we would have that information, we would be happy to provide the MRAB with a report. I donít thing we had any field for marking remine implication, but we do have a database. We can try and pull some of these off to give you some idea. Mr. Young just wanted to know the information more from a strategic standpoint, than an accounting standpoint, where might we be going and any input that the Board might offer on that or any suggestions that we might have. Mr. Hess again noted that a lot of these opportunities would crop up as we are doing watershed assessments. We tried to do this with our grant workshops, which we will have another set starting in June, part of July, for the new grant round. If folks know of watershed assessment opportunities, or things like that that would involve remining, by all means please get folks to submit applications. A question was asked about the start date for first round of projects. Yes, some of them have started. Do any these include contractual arrangements with the Department? It is a grant-funding mechanism, it is not a contract. Technically, there are watershed assessment contracts. What was decided, policy-wise, was when the proposals came in and people wanted to know if they had to wait until signature. What we allowed was, once the announcement was made, you can start the work, at your own risk, and you donít get money until it is signed, but any work that you have done from announcement date, we have publicly announced that you have won, any work you do on that project up to signing, you can get paid for, after the announcement date. We can put those dates in the actual grant agreement Ė pickups and things that have happened before the actual start date. We can start reimbursing pretty quick - once the documents are signed, we can go back to the award date, if the document reflects that date. The documents started to being mailed on Monday, April 24 and we are asking that they are returned to us within the next three weeks, or we canít guarantee anything beyond that. There are some cases where we matched not only watershed assessment money, but DCNR money. Ms. Ramsey asked if private companies could apply for the grant. No, they can be partners.

Mr. Snyder asked what the duties of the watershed coordinators would be. Mr. Hess stated that they would have the same sort of role and responsibility that existing folks have. We have at least two, probably three, in each Regional Office now and their responsibilities range from the basics of working with the folks to set up watershed associations to directing them to find funding like Growing Greener or DCNR, or some other kind of funding to developing projects. Everything that you can envision, in terms of helping to point watershed groups in the right direction, in terms of technically how they do something or getting money or technical help or planning help. In being able to hire these people, it will be their main focus to help these watershed groups and conservation groups, and not be a "part" of their job. They will be facilitating the local people in knowing who they need to talk with and what needs to be done for their restoration effort. They will also be one of the "pairs of eyes" looking at the applications that are submitted in the future grant submittals. It will not be a regulatory position, but they can come from the regulatory area.

Mr. Fox asked what was the process, for the next round of applications, as far as those projects that were not funded. Are they still eligible? We are contacting everyone by letter so that they know what the game plan is going to be. For those that were not selected this time, we are giving them an option Ė they can let their application ride, or, if they want to change it, because, in some cases, the deadline was pretty short, they can submit a new application. In the letter to those that were not selected, it is stated that they need to let us know what they want to do by a certain date. But, they can let their application ride if they want to do so. We anticipate, assuming the funding after July 1, to do an initial round of grant announcements, based on the good projects we already have in with us. But they have to let us know what they want to do.

Mr. Hess was asked if there would be any technical comments from the Department on those proposals that didnít make the first cut, or are you going to wait until the watershed coordinator positions are in place to sort of help them go through the proposal. Mr. Hess noted that we are handling some of those calls already. Also, in the letter than is going out, we are making the offer that says if they would like to know a little bit more about what may be the strengths or weaknesses of your application, give us a call. That will be handled through our Grants Center on the 9th Floor of this building. If they need any more detail than that, or if they want to work up a better application, we will have them work with our regional district mining staff. Feedback is very important.

Legislative Updates (Presenter Representative Sam Smith)
Representative Smith is not aware of anything new.

Reclamation Clearinghouse Live Presentation

A presentation was given during lunch using the DEP web page in real time.

Program Activity Updates

BMP-Based Remining Permit (Presenter Michael Smith, DMM, Hawk Run DMO)

A presentation of Best Management Practices (BMP) Effective Review was given during lunch. He also had an overhead slide presentation.

Proposed Revisions to 25 Pa. Code Chapters 210 and 211 (Presenter Scott Roberts, Director, BMR)

At its January 6 meeting, the MRAB voted unanimously to approve the proposed blasting regulations. Mr. Roberts is pleased to report that the Environmental Quality Board also unanimously voted to adopt the proposed regulations at the EQBís March meeting. The proposed regulations will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin within the next week or two. Following that, there will be a public comment period. Public meetings are being proposed. Following the close of the public comment period, the Department will analyze the comments, put them together and go back to the EQB. These regulations are on schedule for the June 2001 effective date. No questions were raised.

Proposed Revisions to 25 Pa. Code Chapters 88 and 90 (Presenter Scott Roberts, Director, BMR)

On April 18, the proposed revisions to the coal refuse disposal regulations were presented to the Environmental Quality Board. They were adopted as proposed regulations on a split vote. They will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulleting on June 10. Following that, there will be a 60-day comment period, with a public hearing to be held in the anthracite region and another hearing to be held in the bituminous region. These locations will be announced at a later date. These changes are primarily a clarification of changes that the Legislature made in 1994 to the Coal Refuse Disposal Act. They primarily provide for a site-selection process that will encourage the mining industry to site coal refuse disposal facilities in watersheds with abandoned mine land features and will also include some provisions that are very similar to the current Subchapter F program. These regulations are on schedule to go back to the EQB for final rulemaking in July 2001. Once we have the comments, they will be analyzed and will be presenting a final version of the regulations to the MRAB, probably in January 2001. No questions were raised.

EPA Regulation of Fly Ash (Presenter Robert Dolence, Deputy Secretary for MRM)

Mr. Dolence passed out a copy of a web page on the announcement by EPA to not classify coal ash as hazardous at this time. EPA will continue looking at this and will probably promulgate some sort of guidance under Chapter D and with strong encouragement that the states and industry adopt those guidelines. If not, it may prompt EPA to take further action somewhere in the future. They left their door open on the matter that they were forced by the Courts to announce their decision on the April 25. We have heard, repeatedly, coming out of EPA that the information that we submitted to them on how we regulation and monitor and utilize coal ash beneficially that EPA has used Pennsylvaniaís methodologies as an example of what they would like to see many other states adopt. We are very encouraged by those remarks, as well as, the EPA allowing science to drive their decision verses "The beltway". We look forward to continuing a strong program and utilizing ash in reclamation in a safe manner. We appreciate the Boardís support on some the activities we have done along those lines. Fly ash verses coal ash was discussed.

Ms. Ramsey noted that the Courts forced EPA to make a decision by April 25, but no one has seen the determination. Mr. Dolence wanted the Board to take this very seriously.

New Business

Council for the Research and Reclamation of Disturbed Land in PA (Presenter David Mankamyer)

This information was passed out to the Board members for their information. There will be some very good papers given at this Council.

Wetlands (Presenter Mike Young)

Mr. Young was asked to offer comments on some problems with wetlands in remediation and reclamation projects.

Election of New Chairperson

Chairman Wolf asked if anyone would like to job. No one, the Board asked Mr. Wolf to take it again.

Chairman Wolf would like to step down, but there are several things, like full cost bonding, and some other things weíve got "cooking", that he would like to see through, which is very rewarding. So if the Board wishes to have him for another year, he will stay on. Mark Snyder made the motion to renominate Fred Wolf as Chairman of the MRAB. There were multiple seconds. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Next Meeting Date and Location (Special Meeting)

Date: June 7, 2000

Location: Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 1:22 p.m.