Thursday, October 25, 2001

Rachel Carson State Office Building

Harrisburg, PA



Members/alternates in attendance:  Jack Chamberlin (member); Wayne Crawford (Alternate); Richard Fox (Alternate); Susan Germanio (alternate); Walter Heine (member); Lisa Mahall (member); Dave Mankamyer (Member); Mark Snyder (member); David Strong (member); Bruce Tetkoskie (alternate); Burt Waite (member); Sue Wilson (alternate); Fred Wolf (chair); and Mike Young (alternate).


Others in attendance:  James Brahosky (DEP/BDMO), Rod Fletcher (DEP/BAMR), Elaine Holland (DEP/MRM), Todd Lawton (Scrubgrass Generating Co.), Rick Lamkie (DEP/BMR), Joe Pizarchik (DEP/OCC), Billie Ramsey (ARIPPA), Scott Roberts (DEP/BMR), Marc Roda (DEP/OCC), Bo Reiley (DEP/OCC), Evan Shuster (DEP/BMR), Joe Sieber (DEP/OPC), Deb Simko (WPCAMR), Dan Snowden (CAC), Nevin Strock (DEP/BMR) and Kurt Weist (PennFuture).


Meeting Called to Order


The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m.  After introductions, Chairman Fred Wolf opened the meeting with a request to adopt the July 12 minutes.  Jack Chamberlin made the motion, seconded by Dave Mankamyer.  The minutes were unanimously approved.  Mr. Wolf apologized for not getting the biosolids representatives and Bill Pounds on the October agenda.  This will be included in the January agenda since the issue was raised at the biosolids committee meeting and the MRAB is the appropriate board to look at it.


Thank you letters were sent to Dennis Knoll (Earthtech) and Arthur Rhoads (Penn State Harrisburg) for their coal ash presentation.


Beverly Brock, Acting Director of OSM Harrisburg, sent her regrets that she was unable to attend the meeting, as originally planned.  She will be invited to the January meeting.


Committee Reports


Policy Committee – Mark Snyder was delayed and was not present at this time.  Mike Young reported that the committee has not met.


Reclamation Committee - (Sue Wilson) The committee did not meet; however there are a number of outstanding action items to be addressed.  During the January 4 MRAB meeting, reclamation materials were discussed and a reclamation forum established.  The Department has not followed up since that time.  The Committee requests that the Department develop protocol for the beneficial use of waste products for reclamation.  Dave Mankamyer added that issues include post-mine discharges, working with industry to post bonds and the need for funding to resolve the problems. Mr. Wolf requested a condensed letter addressing these issues from Sue Wilson.  Recommendations will be discussed at the January 2002 meeting. 

Obligations:  Sue Wilson to send a letter to Fred Wolf.


Regulation/Legislative Technical Committee – Dave Osikowitz was not present to give a report.


Annual Report Committee –Mike Young reported that the committee met and divided responsibilities. 

Obligation:  Mike Young to draft report for the Board’s January 2002 meeting.


A proposed rule making entitled “Coal Mining Chapter 86”

(Evan Shuster, Environmental Program Manager, Bureau of Mining & Reclamation)


Current regulations prohibit coal extraction for any reason in areas designated as Unsuitable For Mining (UFM).  This rulemaking adds a new section, 86.6 to exempt the extraction of coal, coal removal and coal removal incidental to government-financed highway construction and government-financed reclamation from the coal mining regulations.  This addition is the result of a request from PennDOT and is based on the current wording in Pennsylvania’s SMCRA, Section 3, in the definition of surface coal mining activities.  The language says surface coal mining activities shall not include extraction of coal or coal refuse removable pursuant to a government-financed reclamation contract with the purposes of Section 4.8, which is the phase requirements for government-financed reclamation contracts and no-cost contracts.  The definition also says extraction of coal as an incidental part of federal, state or local government-financed highway construction pursuant to regulations promulgated by the EQB. 


The regulation package also includes some changes to 86.123 and 86.127.  In a recent lawsuit the attorneys for the coal owners claimed that 86.37(a)(5)(i) prohibits anyone from applying for a mining permit for any part of the UFM area.  This amendment is proposed to clarify the regulations.  The change to 86.123 explains how the Department will handle any permit applications that includes areas within a UFM.  This package is scheduled for consideration at the February 19 EQB meeting and is presented to the Board for review and approval.


A lengthy discussion ensued regarding PennDOT’s plan for the realignment and reconstruction of Route 322 in Centre County and the definition of the terms surface mining and coal extraction (i.e., for profit vs. spoils).  The area is designated UFM due to an overburden in high sulfur coal and the acid-producing potential.  The danger for pollution is the same, whether coal is extracted or the overburden is disturbed.  PennDot is required to follow various federal as well as state requirements, including the development of an environmental impact statement and designs for issues such as off-drainage from the sites.  One requirement is to hold agency coordination meetings, which would include DEP. 


One issue regarded ownership of the coal. Addressing the former, Joe Pizarchik clarified that the applicable statute is generally referred to as the State Mining Commission Act.  It provides that whenever the Commonwealth acquires a right-of-way or easement of property, that the coal owner, the person that has the right to the coal, or the state agency acquiring an easement can convene the Commission.  The Commission will determine how much coal must remain, if any, and how much compensation would have to be paid to the coal owner or one who has the rights. 


There was discussion the meaning of the word “extraction.”  Scott Roberts clarified that this proposal only applies to government-financed highway construction or reclamation.  He also stated that he interprets the word “extraction” in the surface mining regulations, as meaning for profit, not spoils.  The major concern, however, is not the coal, per se, but the overburden.


Sue Wilson suggested that MRAB’s Regulation Committee work with the Department in seeking options since the area is so broad and many levels of government are involved.  Chairman Fred Wolf asked for a motion to forward the rulemaking to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee to review the language.  Sue Wilson made the motion; Walter Heine seconded it. 


Mike Young voiced a concern about timing and whether a February 2002 date for the EQB will cause problems for PennDOT.  Evan Shuster stated that PennDot needs a clarification by 2004, although they did not give a specific dead line.  The regulatory development process normally takes a year to 16 months.  At the latest, an April 2002 date for the EQB will still fit within the schedule.


This was followed by discussion and clarification on the broad scope of the regulations.  This involves road construction activities beyond and within the UFM area, and submittal of an application for permit of an area, which could serve as a petition to modify the existing designation.  Also the provisions in 86.3(a) and 86.112 are not provisions related to the PennDot highway construction issue.  After the discussion the Board unanimously voted in favor of forwarding the rulemaking to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee. 


Obligations:  Evan Shuster to remove the regulation package from the February EQB agenda.  Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee to hold a meeting in November.


Draft Revision to Technical Guidance on Government-Financed Construction Contracts

For Information and Discussion

(Evan Shuster)


The existing guidance evolved from a no-cost contract in 1992.  Major changes are as follows:

1)      Pg. 3 – Update form number on line 13 and added last sentence.

2)      Pg. 3, Lines 27, 28 – Added sentence to state that the placement details must be included in the permitted mine’s approved regulation plan.

3)      Pg. 3 – Add sentence for phased projects beginning with line 30.

4)      Page 3, line 43 – Indication of DMO obligation (previously BAMR).

5)      Page 4 – State applicant is required to obtain clearance on the State Historic Preservation Office.

6)      Page 4, Line 19 – Statement for providing a description of the extent of proposal and project narrative.

7)      Pg. 4 – New footnote on lines 28-30.

8)      Pg. 4 – Added lines 39-42.  Language allows continual review of proposal.

9)      Pg. 5, line 24 – Regional Water Supply Manager replaces Bureau of Water Supply Management

10)   Removed the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers from the list of entities receiving notices.

11)   Pg. 6, line 2 – “if necessary” inserted.

12)   Pg. 6, line 26 – Slight rewording.

13)   Pg. 6, line 35 – Acknowledge existence of community relations coordinator.


Evan requested that individuals (not the Board as a whole) review the changes and get their comments to him by November 30.  Results will be announced at the next meeting.


Three new Draft Technical Guidance Documents for Information and Discussion

(Rick Lamkie, Chief, Explosives and Safety Section, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation)


The three draft guidance documents involve fly rock, blasting activity permits and permits by rule, and alternate peak particle velocity and air blast levels.  Mr. Lamkie began with some surprising statistics:  99,500,000 pounds of explosives were used for surface coal mining in Pennsylvania in the year 2000, primarily in the bituminous areas.  This involved 42,000 blasts.  There were 471 blasting-related complaints in the state during the year.  All complaints were investigated, with the following results:  67 violations cited; 10 violations were serious or deliberate enough to warrant license suspension. 


The Department receives approximately 1,200-1,500 blasting permit applications annually statewide.  Mr. Lamke explained the various types of safety hazards involved, enforcement actions and requirements of Chapter 211 in governing review of anticipated blast plans.  Technical guidance document 562-2100-002 was developed to ensure that requests for alternative peak particle velocity of air blast levels are reviewed and handled in a consistent manner. (Examples of various established limits were given.)  Along with safety as a primary concern, the goal is to protect the buildings and other structures on the property.


In modifying the technical guidance documents, Mr. Lamke explained that he had input from blasting inspectors and others from the program, as well as having discussions with people from the industry.  Because of the safety issue, the industry is generally supportive of the enforcement and compliance program.


Environmental Futures Planning (EFP)

(Chris Yeakle, Mining Permit Compliance Specialist, Knox District Mining Office;

Doug Brennan, Attorney, Bureau of Regulatory Counsel, Chief Counsel)


Chris Yeakle gave an informative PowerPoint presentation on EFP, which covers the three established goals, 17 indicators of the environmental conditions to measure the effectiveness, and objectives of the program.  Doug Brennan is one of the key people in coordinating this effort across the Department and was present to answer questions.  The goals and indicators are measured from outside input.  Mr. Yeakle discussed MRM’s objectives such as initiating and implementing restoration of priority watersheds to make a significant measurable improvement in stream miles meeting Chapter 93 standards.  The ultimate goal is to have stream listed under the TMDL program removed from the list as being impaired. 


Other objectives include developing plans, policies, and predictive tools to prevent dewatering of streams by the full extraction underground mining, identifying trends and changes in land use and evaluating the effect on wildlife; implement the water trust fund to provide financial assurance for continued treatment of discharges; implement the design and restoration for abandoned mine lands over a three-year period, develop compliance assistance efforts to decrease the number of water quality violations; and facilitating the use of co-products and byproducts for reclamation.


More information can be obtained by accessing the website at www.dep.state.pa.us/hosting/efp2 .  All objectives are listed here for each of the regional teams and MRM, as well as other bureau objectives.


Sue Wilson stated that the CAC is becoming involved in the Environmental Futures process.  The CAC held a meeting in September and invited each advisory committee to send a representative to discuss their role, including engaging the public as stewards.  She referenced the CAC letter of October 18.  A copy of this letter was to be sent to the MRAB Chair; however, Mr. Wolf did not receive it in time to include in this meeting’s agenda.  Ms. Wilson requested input from the MRAB as to what should be done with the network and whether the Council can provide assistance or whether it should be done through the liaisons in the Department.  She stressed the need for more public participation in meetings, rather than meetings as a method for simply reporting, and asked for the Board’s input.

Obligation:  Chairman Wolf to follow-up with Sue Wilson regarding the process to use in obtaining the MRAB’s response to her request.


Bonding Conversions Update

(James Brahosky, Director, Bureau of District Mining Operations)


The Full Cost Bonding (FCB) Program is implemented.  Notices were mailed in mid-August to all licensed operators.  Each district office has established a notification schedule for operators within their districts, based on a priority schedule of active sites in need of additional bond.  Operators are requested to prepare calculation sheets based on their description, dimensions, affected areas and multiple permits.  A number of offices have scheduled or held workshops for operators and consultants in their districts.  Few responses and a number of requests for extensions have been received.  Only five- to ten-day extensions will be granted.  In approximately three to four weeks all calculations should be received.


Little activity is expected for the Greensburg DMO.  The largest anticipated need is under Cambria, Hawk Run and Knox.  No sites have been converted to date.  The Department is doing everything it can to keep operators solvent.  Conversion bonds, with the operators’ ability to reclaim their sites via a Consent Order and Agreement will afford the operators more time to bring the dimensions of their pit in line with the amount of bond they can afford to post, either through a regular surety or the Department’s conversion bond.


Mr. Brahosky also gave a quick update on trust funds.  A meeting is scheduled next week at Knox to negotiate trust fund sites there with post-mining discharges.  Negotiations continue at each of the district offices to establish trust funds for operators’ liability.  The IRS approved the master trust as a charitable trust.  By January 2002 meeting, there should be 30 to 40 trusts in place.  The goal for the completion of FCB is mid-2002.


Briefing on Amendment to Chapter 93, Water Quality Standards

(Carol Young, Water Quality Assessment and Standards, Office of Water Management)


Carol Young introduced herself and her work with water quality standards.  Standards are uses of the waters of the Commonwealth, such as aquatic life, potable water supply and recreation and criteria to protect those uses.  The criteria are either narrative or numerical expressions.  Water quality standards are mainly in Chapter 93, although a new Chapter 96 includes some of the implementation and Chapter 16 includes the statement of policy and toxics criteria.


Ms. Young talked about a proposal involving sulfate and chloride, which resulted from many years of modifying existing regulations.  Sulfate and chloride are in all the permits at the applicable point of discharge at the mix; the fix was to move the point of application to the water supply intake.  Protecting the water is already ensured by osmotic pressure, which protects the aquatic life use.  By applying it at the point of intake, it ensures that a water supply will not need to remove it.  Human health is not compromised since it is not a health consideration.  The two criteria in question deal with 250 mg/l and are both equal to the secondary maximum contaminant levels. 


The November 20 EQB meeting will address the proposal as proposed rulemaking.  If accepted there will be a public hearing.


Coal Mine Permits/Road Requirements – Review of Final Rulemaking

(Evan Shuster)


The Board reviewed the proposed rule in April and it was published in the August 18 Pennsylvania Bulletin.  The comment period closed on September 17.  The Department is proposing no changes to it from now until final rulemaking, anticipated at the February 19, 2002 EQB meeting.  Mr. Shuster asked for the Board’s concurrence and recommendation to proceed.  Mike Young moved.  Jack Chamberlain seconded.  The Board unanimously approved the motion.


New Business


Chair Wolf and Dave Mankamyer had a previous discussion on the importing of coal into the United States.  Mr. Wolf feels that the Board or a committee could address the issue of China paying into the Black Lung Fund.  A discussion on the handling of foreign coal ensued.  Scott Roberts clarified that a main concern is at a time when Americans are consuming more coal than at any other time, the market share of anthracite keeps dropping.  This is an issue on the horizon.


A handout of next year’s schedule was given to the Board members.  OPC requires notification of the coming year’s meetings by December 10.  There will be a tour scheduled in April or July.

Obligation:  Elaine Holland to send 2002 meeting schedule to OPC by deadline.


Nevin Strock will be the MRM liaison to the MRAB.


Next Meeting Date and Location


January 3, 2002; Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg.




There being no other business, Chair Wolf asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Sue Wilson motioned to adjourn the meeting.  Dave Mankamyer seconded this. The meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.