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December 2000, VOL. 18, NO. 4

Register for the IMCC 2001 Annual Meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Registration has begun for the 2001 Annual Meeting of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC). The meeting announcement, registration forms, and hotel information are included in this issue of The Compact. The meeting will be held April 22-25, 2001 at the historic Arlington Hotel and Spa located at the Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

A welcoming reception on Sunday evening, April 22, will open the meeting. On Monday, April 23, the meeting will commence with a general session. More information about the general session program will appear in the March 2001 issue of The Compact. A dinner cruise on nearby Lake Hamilton is scheduled for Monday Evening. The IMCC National Reclamation Awards and Mineral Education Awards will be presented at a Tuesday evening banquet. Standing Committees of the IMCC will meet during the day on April 24, and the Executive Commission Annual Business Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 25.

Meeting attendees are encouraged to register early to assure room availability and to help us in our planning. For more information, contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

IMCC Welcomes Newly Elected Governors as Commissioners

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) will have four new commissioners as of January 2001 with the election of new governors. The new governors and commissioners include: Governor Michael F. Easley of North Carolina; Governor Roger B. Wilson of Missouri; Governor Robert Wise of West Virginia; and Governor John H. Hoeven of North Dakota. Governor Frank O'Bannon of Indiana was re-elected. IMCC welcomes the new Governors to the Commission and we look forward to working with them and their representatives.

Indiana/IMCC Sponsor Minerals Education Workshop for Teachers

October 20-21, 2000, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Reclamation, sponsored a minerals education workshop for Indiana and Illinois school teachers. The workshop took place at the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute, Indiana. Forty-five teachers attended the full day hands-on workshop on October 20. Several of the attendees also participated in a field trip the following morning to Black Beauty Coal Company's Farmersburg Mine. There they observed active surface mining operations in progress and examples of completed and ongoing reclamation. Teachers submitted positive evaluations at the completion of the workshop. They received the materials and the workshop activities enthusiastically and indicated their intent to put them to use in their classrooms.

Catawba College Center for the Environment to Host IMCC Teacher Workshop

Plans for the next IMCC teacher workshop are currently in full swing. Catawba College's new Center for the Environment in Salisbury, North Carolina will host the workshop on March 16-17, 2001. The full-day hands-on workshop will take place on March 16 with a half-day field trip to nearby mining and reclamation sites being planned for March 17. Teachers from North and South Carolina are being invited to attend the free workshop. Attendance is limited to 50 teachers.

The IMCC workshop will be one of the first groups to meetat Catawba College's new Center for the Environment. The Center is expected to be completed in January of 2001. The Center's structure is being built with all recycled and/or recyclable materials and overlooks the College's 189-acre wildlife preserve. Students have been actively involved throughout the planning process. The Center will present an ideal location for IMCC's Minerals Education Workshop.

For more information regarding the workshop, contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

Advisory Council Publishes Final Rules

At its November 17, 2000 business meeting, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) voted to publish its recent proposed rule as a final rule, and to not suspend its current 1999 regulation which is currently being challenged by the National Mining Association in NMA v. Slater. At its meeting, the Council indicated that it received 64 comments on the proposed suspension, of which 58 requested the Council not to suspend. The Council claims that these comments indicated that there would be confusion, disruption, and irreperable loss of historic properties if the rules where suspended. The Council plans to have the final rule published in the Federal Register on or around December 1.

Mountaintop Mining/Valley Fill Draft EIS Update

The four federal agencies (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Surface Mining (OSM), Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) preparing the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on mountaintop mining and use of valley fills in Central Appalachia continue to press forward with their efforts. Of the 16 technical studies that accompany the draft EIS, only a handful are wholly completed. Several are in various stages of completion, and few have received peer review. Nonetheless, there is a strong sentiment on behalf of at least two of the federal agencies (EPA and FWS) to complete and issue a draft EIS before the new Administration takes charge on January 20 of next year. The state of West Virginia has urged the federal agencies to move more deliberately and to assure at least some level of peer review before the studies that accompany the draft EIS are released. The Steering Committee that is overseeing preparation of the report has been meeting on a regular basis since early November of 2000 to monitor progress of the EIS and to provide guidance to those who are preparing the studies.

Citizen Group Sues Re. Bonding for AMD

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the same citizens group that brought the lawsuit against the state of West Virginia challenging the state's handling of mountaintop mining operations and related valley fills for disposal of excess spoil, has filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection and the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) alleging the states' bonding program (including its bond pool) is inadequate to meet the potention financial obligations associated with long-term treatment related to acid mine drainage (AMD) at existing permitted minesites. The primary focus of the lawsuit is the basic inadequacy of individual bonds at minesites to cleanup potential AMD and argues, as part of the requested relief, that OSM takeover this portion of West Virginia's regulatory program. Subsequent to the filing of this lawsuit, the Ohio Valley Environmental Council filed a notice of intent to sue the state and OSM over the same issue.

Mineral Education Coalition Sponsors Booth at Science Teachers' Convention

As part of a Mineral Education Coalition, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) joined with other government and industry organizations to help sponsor a minerals booth at the National Science Teachers Assocaition (NSTA) Regional Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, November 16-17, 2000. Teachers flocked to the popular minerals booth where 1,900 kits containing 16 mineral samples were handed out, along with thousands of posters, educational brochures, activity books,k and other educational literature. The booth was th emost popular at the convention, with long lines forming around the booth as soon as the doors opened each day which continued until the convention hall closed at the end of each day.

The Mineral Education Coalition is composed of several organizations which are involved in mineral education throughout the country. Some of the organizations which participated in the Baltimore effort included: IMCC, the National Mining Association, the American Geological Institute, Women in Mining, the American Coal Foundation, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) (which is the primary sponsor and coordinator of the Baltimore booth, as well as booths in other regions). SME provides major funding for the effort. Other organizations and mining companies were also generous in providing donations of funds, minerals samples, and literature. Volunteers from state and federal government agencies, industry, and other organizations staffed the booth.

OSM Oversight Initiative on Coal Mine Impoundment Concerns

Katherine L. Henry, Acting Director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining (OSM), recently announced an initiative to address coal mine impoundment concerns throughout the Appalachian region. Based in part on the recent coal slurry breakthrough into underground mine works at the Martin County Coal oepration near Inez, Kentucky, the effort will include an assessment of the potential for impounded water, slurry, or other materials to drain in an uncontrolled manner into adjacent underground mines across the region. Personnel from OSM's Lexington Field Office and other OSM engineers and technical staff from around the country are providing technical assistance to thte investigation of the Martin County Mine breakthrough, and are working with state and federal agencies to monitor the situation and the remedial actions being taken in response to the incident.

In addition to the efforts on-going in Kentucky, OSM will take actions in all states to prevent further impoundment breakthroughs. Henry said that OSM and the states will begin the evaluation immediately and will address the full extent of impoundment issues, including: assuring that state program requirements for impoundments over underground mine works are being effectively implemented; assuring maintenance of an inventory of existing permitted impoundments, and the identification of those known to be within 500 feet of underground mines; assessment of the potential threat and impact on downstream life, property, and environment of an impoundment breakthrough that would result in an underground mine discharge to the surface; and assessment of technical procedures used to approve surface mining activities within 500 feet of underground mine works.

As planned reviews are concluded, OSM, working with the states and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, will consider whether existing regulations and engineering pratices may need revision to ensure protection of public health, safety, and the environment.

For more information, or a copy of OSM's Action Plan, contact Allen D. Klein, Director, Appalachian Region at 412.937.2828, or George Miller, Director, Knoxville Field Office at 865.545.4103.
Interstate Mining Compact Commission
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