Rachel Carson State Office Building
P.O. Box 2063
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063
August 26, 1998
Office of Mineral Resources Management 717-783-5338
Mr. Robert J. Biggi
Harrisburg Field Office
Office of Surface Mining
4'hand Market Streets, Suite 3C
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Enclosed is an "OSM Fact Sheet" dated August 5, 1998, with the heading "OSM Awards Pennsylvania Additional $7,398,654 Grant for Abandoned Mine Lands Program." I would appreciate your response to several concerns I have with this document.
First, it is inappropriate for a federal agency to name a state employee as contact person for a federal announcement without first obtaining the state employee's permission to do so. In this case, not only was prior permission not sought, there was not even a professional courtesy given to inform the state agency or the employee of the announcement.
Secondly, the fact sheet is misleading. The funds discussed are merely a rollover of a previous grant to Pennsylvania (see second enclosure). This is a routine funding exercise for funds that have not yet been expended. Although the fact sheet mentions the "carry over" of monies, it misleads the public to believe OSM has given new monies to Pennsylvania for mine reclamation.
Thirdly, DEP staff must now make time to respond to inquiries, Congressional as well as private citizens, and explain what the funds really are. This announcement results in a waste of taxpayer dollars and frustrates the public and devoted DEP staff who perceive this as nothing more than OSM taking the liberty of editorial license to make themselves look good. With little success, I have tried to buffer the staff comments by explaining this may not be intentional spotlight seeking behavior but perhaps OSM just doesn't understand the grant process.
Mr. Robert J. Biggi 2 August 26, 1998
My fourth and greatest concern is the public interpretation of this announcement. Pennsylvanians including environmental advocacy groups, the United Mine Workers of America, the coal industry and DEP have led the charge in having additional funds released from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation fund (remember the $1.3 billion dollars that are sitting idle in the account). Some may erroneously believe their efforts have finally resulted in "additional funds" to Pennsylvania for abandoned mine reclamation. Those devoted to mine reclamation may reduce or even cease their pressures on Washington, D.C. to have more funds provided for the intended purpose of the AMR fund. Ironically, your fact sheet could actually result in reduced levels of funding, not additional funds as stated in the announcement.
Unfortunately, the damage caused by this fact sheet has already occurred. Regardless, I look forward to your response.
Robert C. Dolence
Deputy Secretary for
Mineral Resources Management
cc: Kathy Karpan
Mary Jose Blanchard