Board Members Present: Walter N. Heine, Chairman, Walter E. Fike, Brian Redmond, Fred Wolf, George Ellis for Mark A. Snyder, Sue Germanio for Representative Anthony L. Colaizzo, Tony Ercole for David D. Osikowicz, Howard Laur, Sue Wilson, Rep. Sam Smith, and Pat Krommes for Senator James J. Rhoades.
DEP staff present were Robert C. Dolence and Rodney L. Kelley from the Office of Mineral Resources Management, Nina Huizinga and Chris Allen from the Office of Policy and Communications, Peter Slack, David C. Hogeman, and Evan Shuster from the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, Leigh Cohen from the Regulatory Counsel, and Ernie Giovannitti from the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Heine at 12:30
KEY OBLIGATIONS FROM THE JULY 18, 1996 MEETING:
1. The CAC will be asked to postpone its field trip through a deep mine. This was done informally during the meeting.
2. The Policy and General Issues Committee will hold a meeting to consider:
A. How DEP should handle underground mining and noncoal/industrial mineral issues.
B. Possible changes to the bylaws.
C. The Board's involvement in the areas unsuitable for mining program.
This meeting was held immediately prior to today's Board meeting.
3. The Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee will hold a meeting to:
A. Review the Comprehensive Plan for Mining Reclamation.
B. Review the Department's recommendation on the Shade Township UFM petition.
C. Review the revised draft of proposed regulations for Postmining Discharges and Licensing and Bonding.
This meeting was held on September 26 and a summary will be handed out at today's meeting.
4. In accordance with a resolution passed at the May 29 meeting, a letter will be sent to Secretary Seif recommending the use of excess coal ash in non-coal sites.
Letter dated July 30 and signed by Walter Heine was sent to Secretary Seif fulfilling this obligation.
5. The Licensing and Bonding and Post-Mining Discharges packages and a report on the Shade Township UFM will be ready to submit to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee during the last two weeks in September.
These packages were mailed to all the MRAB members during the last two weeks in September.
6. All members will receive notices of all Committee meetings. All members are welcome to attend any Committee meeting whether or not they are a member of that Committee.
Committee and Non-committee members are being notified of all meetings.
REGULATION, LEGISLATION, & TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
The committee presented its summary from the meeting that was held on September 26. The Board discussed the committee's recommendations and the results of those deliberations are as follows:
A Motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously that the Board does concur with the Departments findings of non-designation.
In addition, the question was raised about reviewing individual UFM petitions in the future. The concern was that in order for the MRAB to reach a decision on each permit it would require an immense amount of time and technical expertise to review all the technical information, as well as the time it would take to visit each site. The other concern would be the possibility of the MRAB being drawn into litigation. On the other hand, the MRAB is the only advisory board that could provide an independent review of comments and recommendations.
The Board believes that its focus should remain on broad policy, technical and management issues and not on site specific regulatory or permitting actions. UFM petitions and the DEP technical studies that are required are not appropriate areas for the Board's efforts. A motion was made, seconded and unaminously carred that the Board refrain from reviewing and providing recommendations to the EQB on future UFM petitions.
Discussions were held on the benefits of following either a legislative or adjudicatory process when reviewing petitions. Right now the DEP process takes two to three years and needs to become more streamlined. If an adjudicatory process were adopted it would possibly allow petitions to be reviewed in the one year time frame, which would fall under the standards outlined by the Federal Surface Mining Act. However, the adjudicatory process would remove the Environmental Quality Board from the review process and there was some concern about this because the EQB helps to keep the Department accountable. A question was raised whether the change to an adjudicatory process is in the public's interest. If the EQB is removed from the equation of reviewing permits then the MRAB may have to review them. A motion was made to seek public comment on the two alternatives through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The motion failed by a vote of 5 to 6. The motion was made, seconded, and passed that the MRAB will support an adjudicatory process of reviewing petitions. A motion was then made to ask for comment on the two alternatives in the preamble.
The draft proposed rulemaking proposed by the Department was passed by the Board with a recommendation for EQB approval.
A motion was made, seconded and passed to accept the Department's changes, with three of the nine board members present dissenting. The principle concern of those who dissented was whether the significantly decreased penalties would present a disincentive to potential violators. It was also questioned why consistency with the federal program was an argument in favor of these decreases.
Motion made, seconded and passed unanimously to endorse the Department's recommendations
Motion made, seconded, and passed unanimously to endorse the Department's recommendations.
POLICY AND GENERAL ISSUES COMMITTEE
The Committe met before the full Board meeting on October 3. The chairman presented the committee's suggested changes to the bylaws. They will be presented at the next full board meeting for a vote. The proposed change to Article II (add "Surface Coal" in front of mining, line two) was not resolved. It was noted in the meeting, however, that the MRAB is funded by SMCRA and therefore they can not authorize non-coal operations. The motion to add the amendment was discarded, pending further discussion at the next meeting. Mr. Kelley also wants to add proposed changes under Article VI to reflect that the Board has the full administrative support of the Mineral Resources Management Deputate, not just the bureaus.
The surface effects of underground coal mining was discussed at committee level, however nothing was resolved due to the general consent that it needs to be discussed by the full board. The point was made that there is nobody on the Board to represent the underground coal mining industry or the non-coal surface mining. There was a question raised as to how well the Board could handle those kinds of issues without having the proper authority on the Board to answer them. It was brought up that Secretary Seif would not like to see another advisory board formed because of the large numbers already in existence.
The other point was made that if more time was spent on deep coal mining, less time would be spent dealing with surface mining issues. However, due to the increase in longwall mining, there needs to be a way to address the problems of underground mining, such as subsidence and drainage.
The suggestion was made that if the MRAB was presented with a question on underground coal mining or non-coal surface mining it could form an ad hoc committee to address the topic. Some people from the proper fields could be brought in to speak with the committee and assist in finding an answer to their questions. A suggestion was made that perhaps Secretary Seif could attend a meeting in the near future to add his insight in finding an answer as to what the best
course of action would be.
World Wide Web
The topic was raised about meeting minutes being put on the Web in draft form before they are approved or adopted by the Board. Mr. Kelley pointed out that the Office of Policy and Communications wants to make sure that every measure is taken to keep the public informed of all advisory board and sub-committee meetings. By putting this information on the WWW, they are opening up another avenue by which the public can obtain meeting dates and times, as well as
what will be discussed at those meetings. He suggested that the Board should address its concerns with Bob Dolence before any action is taken.
The minutes of the July 18, 1996 meeting were adopted. Two minor changes need to be made:
A. Susan Wilson's name must be added.
B. Delete Walter Heine's name, which is listed twice
The meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.. The next meeting is scheduled for January 16, 1997.
Key Obligations for October 3, 1996
1. To prepare a letter to Secretary Seif, Chairman, Environmental Quality Board, from Walter N. Heine, Chairman, Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board, stating the MRAB's recommendations on the draft proposed rulemakings.
Letter sent out on October 21.
2. The bylaws must be typed with the proposed changes added to them. They must be mailed out prior to the next Board meeting on January 16, 1997, so that Board members have a chance to review them.
3. Make corrections to the July 18 minutes as noted during the board meeting.
Corrections made, new copies will be handed out at next board meeting.