Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee Meeting

Friday, March 17, 2000
Best Western University Inn, Indiana
10:00 A.M.


Members in attendance: Jack Chamberlin; 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: Bob Biggi (OSM - Harrisburg);John Blaschak (mining industry); Gary Camus (PA Game commission); Bill Clark (CAWLM); Peggy Clark (CAWLM); Wyona Coleman (Tri-state Citizens Mining Network); Robert Dolence; Sam Faith (DEP BDMO); Rod Fletcher (DEP BAMR); Charlie Gutshall (counsel for Pennsylvania Anthracite Council); Jeff Jarrett (BDMO); Brenda Pizer (CAWLM); George Rieger (OSM - Pittsburgh); Scott Roberts (DEP BMR); Natalie Shepherd (DEP MRM); Joe Sieber (DEP OPC); Jeffry Zick (Inter-Power/AHLLON).

Meeting Called to Order

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. MRAB Board Chairman Fred Wolf made a few opening remarks and then turned the meeting over to Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee Chairman David Osikowicz. Everyone present introduced himself or herself.

The MRAB Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee met on Friday, March 17, at the Best Western University Inn, Indiana. Approximately 25 people attended, including nine MRAB board members and/or alternates, seven DEP employees, and representatives of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, OSM, Inter-Power/AHLLON, the mining industry, two citizens groups -Tri-state Citizens Mining Network and CAWLM, and a citizen with a mine subsidence complaint.

This was the second time the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee has met since the quarterly MRAB meeting on January 6. The committee is committed to meeting as many times as possible to discuss conventional or full cost bonding so that they can make a recommendation to the full board on April 27. Aspects of conventional bonding as well as specific components of the Full Cost Bonding Initiative were discussed. The Department's responses to questions posed at the February 16 Legislative Hearing were the primary handouts for the meeting.

Jeff Jarrett, Director, Bureau of District Mining Operations, provided a synopsis of the Department's February 24 meeting with the surety companies in Pittsburgh. Jeff reported that the surety companies will continue to make decisions based on the financial strength of the company. The surety companies are more comfortable with traditional performance bonding whereas long-term performance periods for bonds create difficulties. Another meeting will be held in the future which will be developed by the surety industry.

Two citizens groups - Tri-state Citizens Mining Network and CAWLM - and a citizen with a mine subsidence complaint attended the meeting. They were concerned about underground mining issues primarily, particularly mine subsidence. Mrs. Brenda Pizer related to the committee some of her unfortunate experiences she has had as a result of a mine subsidence incident. She provided copies of an agreement that an insurance company had insisted that she and her husband sign before they would settle for damages. These citizens feel there is a great need for some kind of funding mechanism to assist citizens who have suffered losses from mine subsidence incidents.

A number of unanswered questions remain. In particular, the committee is still waiting for information and answers from OSM, which will review OSM's work in the bonding area, including bonding-related activities in other states. The date for releasing information to the public (i.e., a report) has yet to be determined by OSM. The draft study is tentatively scheduled for OSM internal review in April.

The committee will meet again on Thursday, April 13, to wrap up its discussions of the full cost bonding proposal. The meeting will take place at the Pottsville District Mining Office. The committee is also committed to meeting on April 27, right before the full board meeting, which starts at 10:00 a.m.

Key Obligations:

  1. The Department will provide site characteristics information for the Comparison of ABS and Traditional Bonding Report submitted to the committee at the March 17 meeting.
  2. The Department will prepare a report regarding MRAB statutory limitations.
  3. The Department will mark up existing legislation to address points raised during the meeting (bond credits versus financial guaranties).
  4. OSM is expected to provide factual information on federal bonding guidelines as well as what OSM is doing in other states regarding bonding.


At 12:00 noon the meeting adjourned.