Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee Meeting

Thursday, January 4, 2001
Rachel Carson State Office Building
10:00 a.m.

Members/alternates in attendance: Wayne Crawford (Alternate); George Ellis (Alternate); Susan Germanio (Alternate); Walter Heine (Member); Lisa Mahall (Member); David Mankamyer (Member); Honorable Samuel Smith (Member); Dave Strong (Member); Bruce Tetkoskie (Alternate); Sue Wilson (Alternate); Burt Waite (Member); Fred Wolf (Member); and Mike Young (Alternate).

Others in attendance: Robert Dolence (DEP), Bob Biggi (OSM-Harrisburg), Joe Sieber (DEP Policy Office), J. Scott Roberts (DEP-BMR), Billie Ramsey (ARIPPA), Roderick Fletcher (DEP), Mark Killar (WPCAMR), Kurt Weist (PennFuture), Dan Snowden (CAC), Bo Reiley (OCC-DEP), Joe Pizarchik (DEP), Steve Rhoads (Pennsylvania Environmental Reporter), Marc Roda, (OCC-DEP), Todd Lawton (Scrub Grass Power), Gary R. Camus (PA Game Commission), Ted Kopas (DEP), and Chris Shroyer (DEP).

Meeting Called to Order

MRAB Board Chair Fred Wolf called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Wolf asked that all Board members, alternates, and guests introduce themselves and sign the attendance sheet.

After introductions, Mr. Wolf made a motion to accept the minutes from the October 26, 2000 meeting with the correct spelling of Dave Hogeman’s name. Dave Strong seconded the motion. Unanimously approved.
Obligation: Correct the spelling of Dave Hogemuth to Dave Hogeman.

Mr. Wolf opened the discussion with OSM’s October 11, 2000 letter to Secretary Seif regarding the Department’s proposed changes in bonding. Mr. Wolf and the board members expressed their frustration that OSM had not yet responded to their letter. A copy of DEP’s November 22, 2000 letter to OSM memorializing the November 17, 2000 meeting with OSM’s acting Director Henry was provided to the board. This letter confirmed OSM’s position that adjusting the bond rate guidelines to reflect full cost was permissible under the approved program. Mr. Biggi, OSM, stated that letters to the MRAB and DEP from Director Henry were forthcoming.

Policy Committee (Mike  Young) – It was suggested in the last MRAB meeting that the Policy Committee take a deeper look at remining policy issues in the coming year. The Policy Committee developed a survey for that purpose to reach operators and consultants. They developed specific questions to ask the conservation groups and others working on reclamation projects to also get their input on reclamation and remining policy. Copies of this survey were provided to the Board Members asking for comments and suggestions by Friday, January 12. After comments are received from Board Members, the questionnaire will be mailed to coal producers and consulting people who support the industry in remining and reclamation activities. The motion was made by George Ellis and seconded by David Mankamyer. Unanimously approved.

It was also suggested that Mike Young (Policy Committee) work with the Abandoned Mine Land Coalition to identify conservation groups and develop specific survey questions for their input on remining policies. This survey will be mailed at a later date. The motion was made by Mike Young and seconded by Dave Strong. Unanimously approved.

The Reclamation Committee (Dave Strong) – One issue discussed from the earlier committee meeting was areas of facilitating and engaging industry to do more reclamation, using monies from beneficial use-type materials. David Mankamyer presented issues brought forward from the previous Reclamation Committee meeting. Mr. Mankamyer suggested that educational forums should be utilized (e.g., more education on one environmental residual material to take care of more than one environmental problem). Also there was a suggestion made by Dave Strong about the need to involve DEP people from outside the mining program involved in looking at beneficial use issues and the need to study this and to get an idea for a strategy for getting better, broader public support for these projects. Before trying to embrace all the issues involved, we should narrow our focus. It was suggested that the Board use the Bark Camp experience: look at the design, proposal on how to build support and promote those activities. There were many topics to be discussed that it was decided to have Scott Roberts and Rod Fletcher put some thoughts together and circulate these to the MRAB Board Members. If this satisfies the Board Members, the Board will put a format together that is focused.
Obligation: Recommendations to be made and distributed in a week or two.

Representative Samuel Smith’s perception of moving forward with these types of issues is be setting up a system that provides enough upfront testing (i.e., factual information). It is going to have more upfront costs for several years, until the public is comfortable with what is being done.
Obligation: Chair Wolf to set up a meeting with Scott Roberts to get information together and disseminate it to the members and then have meetings.

The Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee did not meet and had no input at this time.

Annual Report Committee (Mike Young) The new July 1999 – June 2000 Annual Report was handed out to Board Members and visitors. Mike Young thanked Ted Kopas and Sue Wilson for their work and support in getting this published and printed.

Scott Roberts gave a presentation of Attorney Fee’s Legislation. Mr. Scott reported that the Governor signed it into law on December 17, 2000. This legislation or law provides for individuals to be awarded attorney’s fees and expenses associated with administrative legal proceedings relating to coal mining. This law, as enacted, allows anyone to be awarded fees from a permittee if they are able to demonstrate that violations existed and they made a substantial contribution to the hearing of the case in the final adjudication of it. It allows anyone, except operators and permittees, to get fees from DEP for orders issued in bad faith. Finally, it allows permittees to receive attorney’s fees from any party if there is a finding that the actions were take in bad faith. Those are the provisions that OSM wanted us to provide, enact in law. The law, as passed, included a second section that deals with "slap suits."

The next item on the agenda is Coal Refuse Disposal Regulatory Package – Chapter 88 Anthracite Coal and Chapter 99 Coal Refuse Disposal – presented by Tom Callaghan. The amendments were self-implementing. Stated goals of Act 114 included promoting reuse of previously affected areas for coal refuse disposal; minimizing the number of coal refuse disposal sites; and providing incentives for reusing sites with existing discharges. Five major changes to Pennsylvania’s coal refuse disposal program included the following: mandated a pre-application site selection process designed to steer applicants to previously mining sites; a provision allowing the Department to grant a variance to the prohibition against coal refuse disposal within 100 feet of the bank of a stream; a provision requiring that all new coal refuse disposal sites include systems to prevent ground and surface water degradation and prevent precipitation from contacting the refuse; included special authorization to allow coal refuse disposal in areas with pre-existing pollution discharges; and provided granting experimental practice permits. There were two handouts at this time: an OSM letter and a reworked version of Sections 90.201 and 90.202(b). The revised language is designed to address comments regarding the inclusion of substantive provisions within the definition of "search area." Several of the Board Members disagreed with the definition of "search area." Plus there are several other interpretation issues that need to be resolved. The MRAB formally notified the Department of the comments/concerns that were discussed relative to precipitation, preferred site, geologist and design standards. Representative Samuel Smith made a motion and Susan Wilson seconded the motion. Unanimously approved.
Obligation: An interim meeting to be scheduled before the next EQB meeting in April.

The next agenda item was "Licensing of Blasters and Storage, Handling and Use of Explosives" presented by Rick Lamkie. The draft rulemaking of 210 will improve the process and criteria for obtaining and retaining a blaster’s license. The draft rulemaking of Chapter 211 is a comprehensive modernization of the standards and procedures for handling, storing and using explosives. The MRAB unanimously approved this proposed rulemaking at the January 6, 2000 meeting; and the proposed rulemaking was adopted by the EQB at its March 21, 2000 meeting. The EQB held four public hearings to take comments on the proposed regulations. Written comments were received and the most significant changes to the proposed Chapter 210 and response to the comments received by the EQB are removal of the requirement for an applicant for blaster’s license to be of good moral character. Changes to the proposed Chapter 211 and response to the comments received by the EQB are defining building as a structure designed for human habitation, employment or assembly. This change clarifies where monitoring is to take place. Final rulemaking is scheduled for April. There was a motion by Chair Wolf too accept it as presented, seconded by David Mankamyer. Unanimously approved.

Scott Roberts addressed a number of issues involving Bob Biggi, OSM, and others at the Harrisburg Field Office regarding approved programs from OSM. The DEP approved program includes about 52 different conditions, conditional approvals, and federal regulations. Some of the items include blasting, typographical concerns, ownership and control. On December 16, 2000 OSM published final regulations regarding the ownership and control issue. Another information issue that Mr. Roberts mentioned that each year we are asked to nominate sites to the Interstate Mining Compact Commission. This year we nominated ACV Power Corporation’s Wildwood Project, located in Hampden Township, Allegheny County. The second nomination, in the noncoal category, is Pioneer Mid-Atlantic Quarry, Westmoreland County.

Mike Young asked Scott Roberts for a status on the 52 issues/concerns. Mr. Roberts thinks that we have taken and dealt with, or at least sent, requested to deal with them to OSM on about 15 of them. Mr. Roberts thinks probably another 10 or more we should be able to handle the same way that we believe our regulations that in are in place are as effective as federal regulations.

New Business

Chair Wolf handed out an article on coal being imported into the United from China. He feels that China should certainly be assessed some kind of reclamation fee or something because they’re pumping it in here. Also, the price hike of natural gas was discussed

Next Meeting

The next interim Committee meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on February 21, 2001 in the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.


Dave Strong made a motion to adjourn the meeting. David Mankamyer seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m. After the meeting adjourned, technical presentations were made by Rick Lamkie on Discussion of Vibration/Z Curve/Structure Response and Keith Brady on Overburden Analysis.