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December 2004, VOL. 22, NO. 4

IMCC Holds 2004 Mid-Year Meeting in Oklahoma City

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 2004 Mid-Year Business Meeting was held November 16-17 at the Waterford Marriott in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

IMCC Standing Committee Meetings took place all day on Tuesday, November 16 followed by an evening reception. Christine Hansen, Executive Director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) was the guest speaker at the Tuesday luncheon. She provided an overview of IOGCC’s peer review process to attendees. The Executive Commission Business Meeting was held on Wednesday, November 17.

Registration Begins for IMCC 2005 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia

The “City of Brotherly Love” will be the site of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 2005 Annual Meeting on April 24-27. The meeting will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel located directly across the street from the Town Hall landmark in downtown Philadelphia. A registration form is included in this volume of the Compact.

A welcoming reception will kick off the meeting on the evening of Sunday, April 24. Speakers (TBD) will open the session on Monday, April 25, followed by the Joint Meeting of the Noncoal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Mine Safety and Health Committee. On Monday evening there will be a social/networking reception.

The Coal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Abandoned Mine Lands Committee will meet jointly on Tuesday, April 26. That evening IMCC will present its 2005 National Mined Land Reclamation Awards and Mineral Education Awards during the Annual Awards Banquet.

The Resolutions Committee and the Finance and Administrative Committee will meet prior to the Executive Commission Annual Business Meeting on the morning of Wednesday, April 27. The Annual Business Meeting is expected to conclude by Noon.

Contact: Beth A. Botsis at phone: 703.709.8654.

Six IMCC States Elect Governors

Four of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) member states, and two IMCC associate member states held gubernatorial elections in November.

North Carolina’s incumbent Governor Mike Easley will retain his office, as will incumbent Governor John Hoeven in North Dakota. They will be inaugurated on January 15 and January 3, respectively. New governors were elected in Indiana, Missouri, Utah, and West Virginia.

Mitch Daniels was elected over incumbent Governor Joseph Kernan in Indiana. In Missouri, former secretary of state Matt Blunt was elected as the state’s next governor. Daniels and Blunt will both be inaugurated on January 10.

In Utah, Jon Huntsman, Jr. won the open seat for governor. His inauguration ceremony will be held on January 3.

Joe Manchin III was elected governor of West Virginia. He will replace Governor Wise who did not seek reelection. Manchin’s inauguration is scheduled for January 17.

OSM Transfers $69 Million to UMW's CBF; AML Fee Extended to June 30, 2005

The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) recently announced that it is transferring $69 million to the United Mine Workers (UMW) Combined Benefit Fund (CBF) to help defray the costs of health benefits for retired coal miners.

Under Public Law 102-486, OSM is required to transfer annually a portion of the interest collected from the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund to the CBF. The UMW fund provided medical benefits in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 for 17,384 coal miners living in 45 states who worked for companies that no longer exist. States with the most miners receiving benefits are Pennsylvania (4,935), West Virginia (3,957), Kentucky (2,507), Virginia (1,200) and Ohio (883).

The cash transfer is based on OSM’s estimated interest earnings for the upcoming Fiscal Year. OSM projects its FY 2005 annual investment collections will be $69,040,000. In addition to the annual transfer, adjustments are made to prior year transfers based on actual interest collected, actual costs of health care, and changes to the unassigned beneficiary population. On October 1, 2004, that population is 16,502.

OSM’s continuing obligation to make such transfers was jeopardized earlier this year when it appeared that Congress would not reauthorize OSM’s authority to collect the AML fee that funds the annual transfers to the CBF. The AML fee was set to expire September 30. About two weeks before that deadline, OSM put in place an emergency rule that would have enabled it to continue collecting fees from coal operators to provide transfers to the CBF even if the AML fee had been allowed to expire.

On December 8, Congress approved an Omnibus Appropriations bill to fund government operations through September 20, 2005 and extended OSM’s AML fee authority until June 30, 2005. Since the AML fee is still in force, OSM’s emergency CBF rule has not taken effect.

OSM Partnering With Pennsylvania on Geospatial Technologies for Oversight

The Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are partnering with Wilkes University to demonstrate the application of geospatial tools to regulatory management of an active mine site.

OSM Director Jeff Jarrett recently announced that OSM has awarded $70,000 to DEP to use several geospatial applications for regulatory (and bonding) oversight and management at a mining operation in western Pennsylvania. DEP will provide $20,000 bringing the total funding for this project to $90,000. PA GIS Consortium/College of Science and Engineering at Wilkes University (PAGIS) located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania has been selected to conduct the project.

This project will include the integrated use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), high accuracy GPS, and satellite imagery to provide geospatial and geophysical data and analysis for engineering mapping and operations monitoring. The project will implement a GIS-based system to track and verify mining operations, on-site reclamation, and bond release status. This would demonstrate the use of GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies in the tracking and verification of operational constraints, including environmental constraints like erosion and sedimentation controls or wildlife structures, monitoring of permit boundaries, verification of topsoil redistribution and other post-mining characteristics such as surface hydrology, vegetation, wildlife habitat, and post-mining land use.

Within OSM, the Technical Innovation and Professional Services (TIPS) program will provide hardware, analytical software and technical assistance, and the Appalachian Region Technical Transfer initiative will provide technical guidance to this endeavor. An integrated use of geospatial tools is expected to provide regulatory field and office staff with the necessary digital environmental and engineering data and maps, design features, and records and analyses of on-site activities during regular mining operations. A mining site in western Pennsylvania that meets the criteria for the demonstration project is presently under consideration.

OSM Announces 2004 AML Reclamation Award Winners

The Office of Surface Mining’s (OSM) Director Jeffrey Jarrett announced in October that abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation projects in Indiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming are winners of this year’s National Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards.

“Abandoned mine reclamation is extremely important in eliminating the human health and safety hazards from abandoned coal mining operations,” Jarrett said. “And these awards highlight the accomplishments and those responsible.”

Each year OSM, sponsor of the competition, honors the best examples of AML reclamation performed by states and Indian tribes. The awards were presented on September 28 during a ceremony at the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs Annual Meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The winners were selected by judges from each OSM field office and state and tribal AML reclamation office. Three regional winners were selected and the winner with the highest score became the national award winner. In addition, citizens select the winner of the People’s Choice award by voting on OSM’s web site for the reclamation they think is best.

The 2004 Winners are:

Gilbert, West Virginia – Appalachian Regional and National Awards: West Virginia Office of Abandoned Mine Lands & Reclamation – Neds Branch Impoundment.

Scalesville, Indiana – Mid-Continent Regional Award: Coles Creek Project, Indiana Division of Reclamation.

Cerrillos, New Mexico – Western Regional Award: New Mexico Abandoned Mine Land Bureau, Cerrillos South Mine Safeguard Project.

Flagg Ranch, Wyoming – People’s Choice Award: Wyoming Abandoned Mine Land Division, Snake River Gravel Pit Project.

The AML Reclamation Awards Program was started in 1992 to publicly recognize outstanding AML reclamation and publicize exemplary reclamation techniques. A brochure announcing the 2005 program, with complete details about how to nominate a project, is available from OSM’s website at: www.osmre.gov/awards.html.
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