Thursday, January 6, 2000
2nd Floor Training Room, RCSOB
Harrisburg, PA


Members in attendance: Fred Wolf, Chairman; Jack Chamberlin; Wayne Crawford (alternate); George Ellis (alternate); John Ford; Sue Germanio (alternate); Walter Heine; Pat Krommes (alternate); Lisa Mahall; Dave Mankamyer, David Osikowicz; Mark Snyder; Rep. Sam Smith; David Strong; Sue Wilson (alternate); Mike Young (alternate).

Others in attendance: Robert Agnew, Don Barnes, Richard Beam, Bob Biggi (OSM Harrisburg), John Blaschak (Fisher Mining), Jim Brahosky, Gary Camus (PA Game Commission), Bill Capouillez (PA Game Commission), Robert Dolence, Tom Callaghan, Rod Fletcher, Mike Getto, Ernie Giovannitti, Bernie Hoffnar, Dave Hogeman, Steve Kepler (PA Fish and Boat Commission), Mark Killar (WPCAMR), Bob McKenzie (OSM Harrisburg), Harold Miller, Kim Nelson, Curtis Pieper, Joel Pontorero, Billie Ramsey (ARIPPA), Steve Rhoads (PA Oil & Gas Association), Scott Roberts, Bo Reiley, George Rieger (OSM Pittsburgh),Marc Roda, Natalie Shepherd, Evan Shuster, Joe Sieber, Bruce Tetkoskie (PG&E Generating), Pam Witmer.

Meeting Called to Order

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. Chairman Wolf opened the meeting and introduced those in attendance.

The first order of business was to adopt the minutes of the October 21, 1999 board meeting. Dave Mankamyer moved that the minutes be accepted. It was seconded by Dave Osikowicz. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Chairman Wolf announced that Duane Feagley will no longer with the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council and therefore will not be serving on the Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board (MRAB).

E Commerce (Presenter Kimberly T. Nelson, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology): DEP's Chief Information Officer Kim Nelson provided a very informative presentation about the department's electronic commerce initiative. The department's goal is to become fully electronically capable of receiving any report or permit application by the year 2002. Ms. Nelson highlighted the three pilot projects that have been selected for early implementation. Discharge and Monitoring Reports, Oil and Gas Well Drilling Permit and Fee Collection (credit card program) and Lab Sampling. A key concept to the Department's approach is something called central receiving - there will be one electronic mail room for the entire Department. A prime focus of the initiative will be security. SB 555 implements the federal standards for electronic commerce. Standards for the signature law (for verifying signatures) will be coming out of the Governor's Office shortly. It is expected that this initiative will bring both cost and timesavings to the Department.

Committee Reports

Annual Report Committee (Presenter Mike Young, Chairman, Annual Report Committee): Chairman Mike Young presented the draft June 1998 - June 1999 Annual Report to the board for its approval. John Ford moved that the annual report be accepted as written with the addition of a newly designed cover. It was seconded by Mark Snyder. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Policy Committee (Presenter Fred Wolf, MRAB Chairman): There have been no meetings of the Policy Committee since the last full board meeting on October 21, 1999, so there was nothing to report. Mr. Wolf, however, announced that Walter Heine is no longer able to serve as Chairperson of the Policy Committee due to the tremendous workload at his firm. Mark Snyder has agreed to serve as the new chair of the Policy Committee. It is to be noted that Walter will continue to serve as a member of the MRAB.

Reclamation Committee (Presenter Dave Strong, Chairman, Reclamation Committee): The Reclamation Clearinghouse presentation at today's meeting (see below) is something that came out of the efforts of the committee. Dave reiterated the committee's commitment to this initiative.

Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee (Presenter Dave Osikowicz, Chairman, Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee): On October 21, 1999, the MRAB unanimously voted to refer the proposed revisions to the coal refuse disposal activities regulations, 25 Pa. Code Chapters 88 and 90, to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee for its review and then report back to the full board at its January 6, 2000. Chairman Osikowicz reported that the committee was not able to resolve the issue of primacy requirements as they relate to the protection of threatened and endangered species. However, with the assurance of the Department to further investigate these requirements, the committee was prepared to recommend to the full board that they approve the proposed revisions. Dave Osikowicz made the motion. It was seconded by Jack Chamberlin. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE. A letter from board chairman Fred Wolf to Secretary Seif, stating the board's position, will be prepared and then be attached to the regulatory package as it moves forward.

At its January 6 committee meeting, the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee also reviewed a proposed list of reclamation topics that the Department could provide presenters for. The committee is deferring to Chairman Wolf to choose which topics he would like to have on future agendas. Mr. Wolf will be coordinating this with the Department.

Reclamation Clearinghouse (Presenter Joel Pontorero, SMCI Supervisor, Ebensburg District Mining Office): The goal of the Reclamation Clearinghouse is to pull together as many direct links and/or as much information as possible together in one location - in this case a website - that pertain to reclamation of abandoned and active mine lands, abandoned oil and gas wells and acid mine drainage abatement. The website will be continuously updated. The objectives are to enhance reclamation data recovery, to use DEP staff and resources wisely, to maintain and organize a comprehensive web-based reference to available information and to provide easy access and a user-friendly system. The Clearinghouse welcomes suggestions of additional links. The many stakeholders include the Department, EPA, OSM, watershed groups, the mining industry, colleges and universities, environmental organizations and the county conservation districts. The board requested a brief, live presentation of the Reclamation Clearinghouse for the next board meeting on April 27, 2000.

Program Activity Updates

Legislative (Presenter Pam Witmer, DEP's Legislative Liaison): S.B. 800, Growing Greener: A very good team effort of Senators White and Musto and Representatives Smith and Hershey made this bill become law. Growing Greener has its own website - http://www.dep.state.pa.us/growgreen. H.B. 868, Good Samaritan: What was so nice about the Growing Greener legislation, was that the Good Samaritan bill was attached to it, thus providing funding for watershed groups to go out and do restoration work and at the same time being provided protection from liability. Copies of the Growing Greener Grant application package were handed out to all the attendees. This package was recently mailed to well over 1000 individuals and groups. The Department is trying to quickly notify as much of the public as possible. Twelve grant-writing workshops, one afternoon and one evening session, will be held around the state on the following days in January: January 11, 13, 19, 20, 24, and January 26. At these workshops, interested parties will learn more about the grant application process and be provided advice as to what types of information to include in their grant applications. The application deadline is February 11 for the first round. Monies must be obligated and/or spent by June 30, 2000. H.B. 866, Attorney's Fees: The bill came out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and is in the House Appropriations Committee. There seems to be a better understanding of the issue. A brief discussion followed regarding the merits of CAC taking a position on this issue, if they have not done so already. It is hoped that everything will be resolved by this spring and that this bill will go forward. H.B. 867, Watershed Restoration and Partnership Act: This bill would allow the Department to provide financial assistance to watershed groups who are forming, to get themselves together, to get a plan together and then to do some implementation work. With the passage of Growing Greener, the Department believes the necessity for this bill to move forward has lessened a great deal.

Reclaim PA (Presenter Don Barnes, Special Assistant to Director, McMurray District Mining Office):

Don Barnes provided an update on the Government Financed Construction Contract (GFCC) program, which was made possible through an amendment to Pennsylvania's Abandoned Mine Reclamation Plan, approved by the Office of Surface Mining in March 1999. The Department received its first proposal towards the end of May. To date, the Department has looked at about 25 different sites throughout the state and has received 15 proposals for GFCC. Including a couple of sites that we carried along under the no cost contract program, the Department has issued four Government Financed Construction Contracts and it has authorizations to proceed with four more.

By definition, a Government Financed Construction Contract is a reclamation project that allows incidental and necessary coal removal. The proposals being submitted will result in reclamation being done at no cost to the Commonwealth. The removal of coal will entirely offset the cost of reclamation of these sites. The Department is very pleased with the reception of the program thus far. Although most of the proposals are being received at the Greensburg office and most of them are related to the past deep mining of the Pittsburgh Coal Seam, the Department believes this program is of value to the rest of the districts and it is hopeful that it will receive more proposals from other parts of the state than it has so far

Full Cost Bonding (Presenter J. Scott Roberts, Chief, Permits Section, Greensburg District Mining Office): The full cost bonding proposal is creating a great deal of interest within the mining industry. As a result, Mr. Roberts was invited to speak to the board so that it could hear first hand about the proposal and have the opportunity to discuss this program enhancement.

After a valuable discussion, a number of decisions were made. First, the board decided to refer the full cost bonding proposal to the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee for a more detailed review and to report its recommendations to the full board at its next quarterly board meeting on April 27. A meeting of the committee was scheduled for Thursday, January 27. Dave Mankamyer made the motion. It was seconded by Dave Osikowicz. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE. Additional meetings may be scheduled. It was suggested that Scott and representatives from the surety industry and OSM be present at these meetings.

Secondly, Scott was asked to look more closely at this proposal as it relates to the anthracite region and then report back to the full board.

Thirdly, out of the full cost bonding discussion came another motion requesting the Department to defer any further action on the full cost bonding proposal until the board has had the opportunity to consider the recommendations of the Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee. Jack Chamberlin made the motion. It was seconded by Sue Germanio. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Penn Futures Litigation (Presenter Robert Dolence, Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management): The complaint was filed. The Department responded with a Motion to Dismiss. There are motions for granting intervenor status to the Pennsylvania Coal Association, the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council and the Association of Independent Power Producers. Briefs were submitted on those motions and the Department now is preparing briefs in support of previous motions. Penn Future has 30 days from December 13 to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. After that, we have 15 days to respond to their brief.

Bark Camp (Presenter Ernie Giovannitti, Director, DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation): Not much new has happened at Bark Camp since the October 21, 1999 board meeting. As previously stated, the Department was bringing in municipal incinerator ash and mixing it with Pennsylvania dredge material from Parker Dam State Park near the Bark Camp site. The Department built a pad with a liner (that slopes away from the highwall towards the middle) on which the municipal incinerator ash and dredge material will be placed. The 150' long by 300' wide pad will accommodate all the material that the Department will be taking from the state park. Regarding two potential dredging sites in New Jersey, the Department has now tested all of the material but doesn't have any results back yet. The schedule is to start transporting the material in the spring, assuming test results are within the limits. The site will remain inactive until spring.

Comparative Tax Liability Study (Presenter Rod Fletcher, Director, DEP Bureau of Mining and Reclamation): This is a study that the Department is proposing to do that will compare the full tax liability to coal operators in several states. It came out of discussions during the litigation about taxes and possible sources of funding to supplement the bond pool. The Department is currently evaluating the bids and after it makes its selection, it hopes to have the study completed by the end of the first quarter. It is important for the Commonwealth to assume a competitive position industry-wide relative to all the states.

EPA Regulation of Fly Ash (Presenter Evan Shuster, DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation): EPA is still planning to make their final decision on March 10.

Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)/Watershed Coordinator Program Involvement (Presenter Bob Agnew, DEP Bureau of Mining and Reclamation): The Department's current agreement with EPA is for 33 stream segments that are impaired by acid mine drainage. The work is coordinated among the district offices and abandoned mine reclamation. The Office of Mineral Resources Management plans to do 45 stream segments the first year - 12 in Hawk Run, 8 in Knox, 11 in Ebensburg, 13 in Greensburg, and one in Pottsville. The Wilkes-Barre BAMR office is will be working with the Pottsville office to do another 10. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission will be doing another 5 of these segments. The segments that were initially selected are streams where there is no mining. They are pretty much all non-point source pollution caused by acid mine drainage. We are looking at abandoned mine land discharges on the streams. We are setting up a tracking system. Each of the streams has been assigned to a staff person in the district office. The formal draft is due to EPA October 2000. The public comment period will end in December 2000. The TMDL is due to EPA in March 20001 and EPA will either approve or disapprove the TMDLs by April 2001.

Regulatory Review

Proposed Revisions to Blasting Regulations, 25 Pa. Code Chapters 210 and 211 (Presenter Mike Getto, Chief, Blasting Section, Division of Monitoring and Compliance, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation): At its October 21, 1999 meeting, the MRAB had voted unanimously to approve the proposed blasting regulations, with the stipulation that the board's approval letter to the Department contain the board's position on the following two issues: placement of the seismograph "at the nearest dwelling" and third party analysis in monitoring. Mr. Getto was invited to the January 6 meeting to report back to the board on these two issues, plus the public notice issue. After Mike provided his update, the MRAB again voted unanimously to approve the proposed blasting regulations. Dave Mankamyer made the motion. It was seconded by Dave Osikowicz. MOTION CARRIED BY UNANIMOUS VOTE.

Next Meeting Date and Location

Date: April 27, 2000
Location: Delaware Room, 16th Floor, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg


The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.