August 2001, VOL. 19, NO. 2
San Antonio is Site of IMCC 2001 Fall Meeting
The 2001 Fall Meeting of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) is scheduled for November 13-14 at the historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. A registration form, which includes hotel reservation information, is enclosed with this newsletter.
Committee meetings will take place on Tuesday, November 13. Committees will break for a luncheon with (invited) guest speaker Gale Norton, U.S. Secretary of Interior. A casual reception will be held Tuesday evening. The Executive Commission Business Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14.
Detailed agendas for the Committee and Commission meetings will be available closer to the meeting dates. For further information, contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: email@example.com.
IMCC Sponsors Forum on Coal Combustion Wastes
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC), in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM), recently sponsored an intergovernmental forum to discuss the mine placement of coal combustion wastes (CCW) in St. Louis, Missouri. The impetus for this interactive forum was EPA's Notice of Regulatory Determination on Wastes from the Combustion of Fossil Fuels published on May 22, 2000 in the Federal Register. In its determination, EPA noted that, although coal combustion by-products do not warrant regulation under subtitle C of the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as "hazardous waste", the agency has determined that national regulations under subtitle D of RCRA are warranted when these wastes are disposed in landfills or surface impoundments, and that regulations under subtitle D and/or possible modifications to existing regulations established under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) are warranted when these materials are used as fill in surface or underground mines.
The intergovernmental forum brought together representatives from the affected states, EPA and OSM to discuss the existing frameworks at the state and federal levels for the regulation of mine placement of coal combustion wastes, as well as problems and issues currently being encountered in the course of implementing these existing regulatory frameworks. In addition, EPA shared what their outstanding data and informational needs are with regard to the development of proposed mine placement rules, which in turn allowed the states an opportunity to respond to these needs.
The forum opened with a presentation by EPA representatives on the "Status of Regulatory Determination and Future Rulemakings". An OSM presentation followed on "[OSM's] Regulatory and Oversight Role in Coal Combustion Waste Mine Placement". Following a break, several states, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Texas, and North Dakota, addressed several topics in presentations by representatives from the respective state's Department of Natural Resources and/or Department of Environmental Protection/Quality that have jurisdiction over CCW mine placement. Each State addressed several topics as part of their respective presentations, including:
In addition, states were also asked to discuss their use of pre-placement site characterization/assessment data, use of monitoring data, and potential areas of improvement.
- Current regulatory scheme and/or policy guidance, including which state agencies have jurisdictional lead over mine placement
(Basic approach: performance standards vs. operating standards; State enforceability; Citizen enforceability).
- State's position on beneficial uses related to mine placement, including use at abandoned mine land (AML) sites.
- Nature of disposal practices.
- Pre-placement site characterization/assessment and acceptance/rejection criteria (Ground-water assessment (pre-use monitoring, modeling); Acid-base accounting; Flood plain and seismic assessments, Surface water assessment (pre-use monitoring, modeling); Soil and geologic assessment; Public notice/approval, environmental justice issues).
- Waste characterization methods (Analyses, frequency; Acceptance/rejection criteria).
- Construction and placement criteria (Placement methods (layering, piling, intermixing with spoil, etc.); Air emission (dust) limits/standards, required/acceptable practices; Ground-water protection limits/standards, required/acceptable practices (e.g., liners, protective distance above water table, etc.); Surface water protection limits/standards, required/acceptable practices (e.g., stream diversion, contouring, etc.); Cover material (daily, intermediate, final) and vegetation.
- Quantity and placement restrictions.
- Monitoring requirements (Ground water (well design and placement, analyses, frequency); Availability of data to the public).
- Closure requirements.
- Post-closure requirements (Monitoring, reporting, record-keeping; Maintaining integrity of final cover; Subsequent use restrictions).
- Corrective action/remediation.
- Financial assurance.
Discussion took place following the presentations regarding the potential for creating a continuing state/federal dialogue on CCW mine placement, and what next steps should be taken. As a result of the discussion, a "states-only" meeting is planned for August to discuss several of the issues raised at the forum, develop positions and recommendations on these issues, and to coordinate intra-state implementation concerns related to the regulation of CCW mine placement in preparation for a future meeting with EPA and OSM officials.
For more information regarding the forum, contact Gregory E. Conrad at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
President Bush Nominates Jeffrey Jarrett to Head OSM
President Bush recently announced that he is nominating Jeffrey D. Jarrett as Director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining (OSM). Jarrett served as a Deputy Assistant Director for OSM from 1988 to 1994 and currently is Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Mr. Jarrett serves as Governor Tom Ridge's official representative to the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.
In Pennsylvania, Jarrett currently is responsible for regulatory programs for surface and underground coal and industrial minerals mining, oil and gas exploration, deep mine safety, and abandoned mine lands reclamation. Previously he served as Director of the DEP's Bureau of District Mining Operations. In that position he was responsible for the effective implementation of various environmental laws as they relate to the surface and underground coal and non-coal mining industries in Pennsylvania and for miner health and safety regulations at all surface mining operations.
On the federal level, Jarrett brings to the job of director his extensive previous experience with OSM. He served as an OSM Deputy Assistant Director responsible for overseeing the effective implementation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) in the eastern states, the management of a number of state and area offices, administration of federal grants to the states for the operation of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) programs, oversight and management of regulatory programs, and technical assistance to the states. Jarrett previously served as director of planning, division manager, and reclamation director for the Cravat Coal Company and as reclamation supervisor for The Drummond Company.
The OSM nominee, a native of West Virginia, received a B.S. degree in Human Resource Management from Geneva College in Pennsylvania and an A.A.S. degree in Land Stabilization and Reclamation from Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
IMCC Proposes Benchmarking Process in Contract With OSM
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently proposed to enter into a contract with the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to assist in carrying out the purposes of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). IMCC proposed to initiate a benchmarking process, which is a protocol within an organization that enables the organization to successfully deliver its products and services. Benchmarking is also a tool to help improve business processes.
Under the agreement, IMCC will serve in a coordinating role working with IMCC member states and other primacy states to benchmark systems and processes for improvements in services to states' customers. Seminars will be conducted on a semi-annual basis that provide states with current and emerging trends and process improvement techniques. These seminars will be videotaped for distribution and use by all primacy states and possibly their customers and stakeholders. Seminars will feature speakers who are experts in the areas that will be covered at the respective seminars such as strategic planning and management, performance measurement, balanced scorecards, web enabling techniques, partnerships for improved effectiveness, measuring and evaluation techniques, dispute resolution, etc. IMCC proposed this as a three-year initial effort in order to cover a wide variety of topics for seminars and to identify and benchmark a variety of state systems and processes for a continuous quality improvement effort. The seminars and benchmarking will be open to all primacy states, whether or not they are IMCC members.
IMCC asserts that this service is needed to improve the efficient and effective use of primacy states' resources. The service will provide a basis for customers and stakeholders to benefit from the most successful aspects of programs that have been developed throughout the nation, and it will provide OSM an avenue to assist and promote a continuous quality improvement effort among primacy states. On-going and recurrent problems encountered by primacy states will be targeted for benchmarking, so that the best possible solutions may be accomplished at the least cost. Limited resources will be conserved by eliminating processes that reinvent the wheel. This will enable states to partner and pool their resources to develop improved processes, share developmental processes, and document implementation methodologies. Among the systems and processes to be specifically targeted for benchmarking will be: electronic permitting; geographic information systems; public participation processes; public information processes; Ownership & Control and Applicant Violator System; permitting processes; enforcement systems; hearing and conference processes; regulation development processes; grant management systems; abandoned mine land (AML) inventory processes; AML project management systems; civil penalty systems; AML contracting and realty processes; PHC/CHIA guidelines; and subsidence controls.
For more information, contact Gregory E. Conrad at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: email@example.com.
IMCC Submits Discussion Paper Urging State Primacy for Mine Safety and Health
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently submitted a discussion paper to David Lauriski, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety & Health, urging consideration of a provision for partial or total primacy under the Coal Training and Metal/Non-Metal Programs. IMCC developed the proposal in the belief that "a highly integrated state/federal relationship can add value to the outcomes of our mutual commitments to quality programs for mine health, safety, and training". An IMCC committee developed the proposal in hopes that the Assistant Secretary would "welcome the opportunity to maximize our mutual resources toward common goals within the framework of our respective legislative authorities. ...The current system often results in a duplication of funds, staff, equipment, travel, printed materials, and data collection, as well as contributing to a lack of coordination since we implement separate programs".
IMCC's proposed system will enable a great deal of flexibility for MSHA and states to develop and implement higher quality health and safety programs. IMCC is proposing the use of cooperative agreements as the mechanism to enable MSHA and states to be innovative in establishing a complete program authorization or a component type program within the system. For example, one state may choose, and MSHA may approve, the full metal/non-metal program in the state and only the training component in the coal program. The proposal is intended to be as flexible as possible, recognizing the different places that each state is in and may desire to go.
IMCC also acknowledged the valuable services rendered by the Mine Safety and Health Academy in Beckley, West Virginia, and asserts that states do not desire to duplicate those services, but hopes that the proposal will mesh well with the on-going training that takes place at the academy.
For more information, or a copy of the proposal, contact: Gregory E. Conrad at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mountaintop Mining Petition Rejected by Appeals Court
A federal appeals court recently said it would not reconsider a three-judge panel's decision to overturn a ruling that would have limited mountaintop coal mining. The federal government had petitioned the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, asking them to reconsider an April decision by three judges to overturn West Virginia U.S. District Court Judge Charles Haden's decision that would have limited mountaintop coal mining. The April decision stated that disagreements over state mining regulations should be considered in state court, not federal court. The government's petition for a rehearing asserted that the three-judge panel's decision conflicts with earlier decisions by the 4th Circuit and with the surface mining law's (SMCRA) regulatory history. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WVHC) had also filed a petition asking the court to throw out the earlier decision. WVHC's petition asserted that the three-judge panel's decision conflicted with previous rulings and was contrary to state and federal Supreme Court decisions. WVHC claimed the three judges ignored the citizen suit provisions in SMCRA, and that this could lead to the elimination of similar provisions in other laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
USGS Reports Sevenfold Increase on U.S. Reliance on Mineral Imports
According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data, U.S. dependence on mineral imports, as measured by value, has increased more than sevenfold since 1993.
"The difference in the value of mineral imports and exports, which was $4 billion in 1993, has increased to $29 billion in 2000," according to a July 10 USGS news release. "By 2000, the United States had become reliant for some portion of its supply of a number of mineral commodities that it had previously exported, including aluminum, copper, lithium, magnesium metal, rare earths and even cement."]
In addition, the U.S. remains more than 50 percent import reliant for at least 29 mineral commodities, including bauxite and alumina, chromium, cobalt, iodine, manganese, nickel, platinum-group metals, potash, tantalum, tin, titanium metal, tungsten and zinc, USGS said.
The July 2001 issue of Mining Engineering, the journal of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, also featured an article in which USGS country specialists David B. Doan and W. David Menzie said globalization has required the mining industry "to adapt to new social conditions." After formerly making exploration and mine development investments in areas perceived as low risk, such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia, since the early 1980's there has been a move into higher risk environments in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa, according to the article. According to Doan and Menzie, many developing countries instituted legal reforms to increase their attractiveness as places for mineral investment.
President Bush's Energy Legislative Agenda Sent to Congress
President Bush's energy legislative agenda, containing proposals from his National Energy Policy (NEP) report that require Congressional action, was recently sent to Congress. Though the Administration did not propose specific legislative language at this time, the President's agenda includes all the recommendations contained in the NEP report specifically identified as requiring legislative action. President Bush urged action by Congress this year, stating, "We cannot let another year go by without addressing these issues together in a comprehensive and balanced package."
Included in the report were agenda items specific to coal, including: spending $2 billion over 10 years for clean coal technologies, permanent extension of the R& D tax credit, and direction for federal agencies to explore ways to encourage advancements in environmental technologies and give greater regulatory certainty to coal electricity generation. These items either are not legislative or are moving through Congress already.
Additional items included in the agenda which could potentially affect the utility use of coal for generating electricity include: transmission issues, electricity restructuring, and definition of reduction targets for emissions such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury.
Bush said that his policy "will modernize and expand our energy infrastructure, creating a new high-tech energy delivery network that increases the reliability of our energy supply." He also said the policy "improves and accelerates environmental protection" and "strengthen[s] energy security." Bush emphasized his administration's readiness to "work with the Congress to enact comprehensive energy legislation this year."
West Virginia Faces Potential OSM Takeover of Bonding Program
The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) recently notified West Virginia that it must meet specific requirements and a timetable to bring its bonding program up to "adequate standards" or face institution of a partial federal program to administer that part of the state's surface mining program.
Federal regulations require that to be issued a state permit to mine coal, an operator must submit a reclamation plan and post a bond equal to the cost of reclaiming the land after mining is done. States may adopt an alternative bonding system, but that system must have sufficient funds to complete the reclamation if the permittee defaults. There must be "substantial economic incentive" for the permittee to perform the reclamation.
Acting OSM Director Glenda Owens started action that would enable the Interior Secretary to partially withdraw state program approval and implement a partial federal program if West Virginia does not make required reforms by the end of its 2002 legislative session. She denied a request from the state for an extension of time before beginning the process, citing "the lengthy history of these problems and the lack of success of earlier resolution efforts."
Owens said the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must do the following:
As of July 27, the state had instituted actions in all of these areas.
- Submit to the state's Legislative Rulemaking Review Committee by July 27, 2001, regulatory initiatives to address the state's bonding deficiencies.
- Simultaneously submit to OSM a copy of these initiatives and any necessary statutory proposals along with a timetable for enactment.
- Provide to OSM, within 45 days after close of the 2002 legislative session, final enacted legislation, signed by the governor, that fully resolves all outstanding problems with the state's alternative bonding system.
NEET Bill Introduced in House of Representatives
The National Electricity and Environmental Technology (NEET) Act (H.R. 2323) was introduced in the House of Representatives in early July by a bipartisan group of Congressmen. The legislation, a companion bill to S. 60, authorizes accelerated technology and research development for new and existing coal-based generating facilities. It also offers tax credits for emission reductions and improved efficiency in existing coal generating plants and for early applications of advanced coal-based generating technologies.
During a press conference announcing their intent to introduce the bill, the Representatives (Ed Whitefield (R) of Kentucky, Rick Boucher (D) of Virginia, John Shimkus (R) of Illinois, Alan Mollohan (D) of West Virginia, Shelly Moore Capito (R) of West Virginia, Jerry Costello (F) of Illinois, and Ted Strickland (D) of Ohio) stressed that the nation has "vast reserves" of coal, and they said clean coal technology can "turn this coal into cheap electricity without compromising environmental quality." They said the NEET bill, "will put these technologies to work to bring down the increasing cost of electricity, reduce harmful emissions and bring back jobs to an industry that has been plagued by environmental barriers."
The bill creates a 10 percent investment tax credit for investments in new or repowered coal-based generating facilities as well as existing units retrofitted with qualified technologies. Additional tax credits would be allowed for increased efficiency in coal-based generators.