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March 2000, VOL. 18, NO. 1

Register for the IMCC 2000 Annual Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina

Registration has begun for the 2000 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 May 7-10, 2000 at the Westin Francis Marion Hotel in the charming historic downtown of Charleston, South Carolina.

A welcoming reception on Sunday evening, May 7, will open the meeting. On Monday, May 8, the meeting will commence with a general session, including an interactive forum on "Environmental Justice" issues. An informal reception will be held 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 May 9, and the Executive Commission Annual Business Meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 10.

Meeting attendees are encouraged to register early to assure room availability and to help us in our planning. For more information, see the inserts in this newsletter, visit our website at www.imcc.isa.us (Conferences page), or contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, e-mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

IMCC to Hold Second Minerals Education Workshop for Teachers

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission's (IMCC) Education Work Group will present its second Minerals Education Workshop for Teachers in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, May 6-7, 2000. Teachers from North and South Carolina are being invited to attend the free workshop where they will participate in hands-on earth science activities and receive posters, curriculum notebooks, and rock and mineral kits to take back to their classrooms. Last year IMCC held its first workshop in Tulsa, Oklahoma where 50 teachers participated and learned valuable information regarding minerals and their uses in today's society.

For more information regarding the workshop, visit IMCC's website at www.imcc.isa.us (Conferences page), or contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, e-mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

WV DEP Combines Mining-Related Offices

The Office of Mining and Reclamation and the Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation in the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) have been combined to form the Mines and Minerals Group (MMG). The former Chief of the Office of Oil and Gas, Ava King, has been named Chief of the MMG. King will report directly to Deputy Director John Johnston. Restructuring is taking place within the MMG based on recommendations of a six-member task force of federal government, business, citizen, and environmental representatives formed last year to study the mining office. The MMG will be reorganized into three units encompassing the activities of the Office of Mining and Reclamation and the Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation.

John Ailes has been appointed Deputy Chief to manage the support systems of the Office of Mining and Reclamation headquarters and coordinate efforts between headquarters and four field offices. Ken Politan will serve as Interim Assistant Chief for the permit support group in the main office. Lewis Halstead will serve as Interim Assistant Chief for all enforcement actions through the legal affairs group. Jeff McCormick will serve as Interim Assistant Chief appointed to the compliance inspection section. Charlie Stover will serve as Deputy Chief to manage abandoned mine lands activities. A third deputy chief will be appointed to manage support systems for the administrative sections of the offices and groups. Russ Hunter will be retained as counsel to the MMG.

WV DEP Sued Over CHIA Issues

The Ohio River Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) and the Hominy Creek Preservation Association, Inc. filed an action against the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) in federal court in Huntington, West Virginia on January 20, 2000. OVEC is claiming that WV DEP has engaged in a pattern of practice of performing inadequate Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessments (CHIA) and requiring inadequate Hydrologic Monitoring Plans in connection with coal mining permits. The general allegations of the complaint are that CHIAs fail to define the area where impacts interact; CHIA's fail to determine all anticipating mining in the cumulative impact area; and CHIAs fail to predetermine limits of material damage in the cumulative impact area. The suit also claims that CHIAs are issued without accurate or complete baseline daily flow data for one year; without determining how the receiving stream reacts to rain; and without determining pre-mining compliance with water quality standards of possibly affected water sources. The complaint also contends that CHIAs are issued without sufficient baseline data and exclude many water quality parameters from the data. The complaint claims that DEP's CHIA guidance and monitoring requirements developed on May 18, 1999 were adopted without opportunity for public comment and contain many of the infirmities set forth above. The complaint contains a long list of specific permits with allegedly defective CHIAs.

Mining Industry Files Legal Challenges to VER Rule and Historic Preservation Rules

The National Mining Association (NMA) recently filed two lawsuits challenging final rules issued by the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) concerning valid existing rights (VER) and by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) regarding protection of historic properties. In its February 15, 2000 complaint on the final VER rules, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, industry has challenged the good-faith, all permits definition of VER included in OSM's final rules. In related litigation, several citizen and environmental groups have challenged OSM's interpretive rule regarding the application of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) Section 522 (e) buffer zone protections to underground coal mining operations. Industry plans to intervene in that case. In its challenge to the Advisory Council's final regulations implementing amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), industry raises several issues including the Council's: attempt to transform itself from an advisory to a regulatory body; application of its rules to "undertakings" without limiting them as required by section 106 of the NHPA; and application of the process to properties that are neither on the National Register of Historic Properties nor formally determined to be eligible for the Register.

Registration Open for Coal Combustion By-Products Forum

The Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining (OSM) recently announced that registration is open for participants in a Coal Combustion By-Products (CCB) Interactive Forum to be held at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Federal Energy Technology Center in Morgantown, West Virginia, April 10-13, 2000. The forum, co-sponsored by OSM, DOE, and Southern Illinois University (SIU) provides an opportunity for discussion of issues concerning the use and disposal of CCBs at both surface and underground coal mining operations. OSM and SIU held a similar forum in 1996. In the earlier forum numerous questions and concerns were documented regarding the use and disposal of CCBs at coal mines that required additional study.

OSM Director Kathy Karpan said, "The forum will include talks by knowledgeable speakers who can explain existing scientific and technical literature as well as new developments in scientific research associated with CCBs. The discussions will be published in a formal proceedings available to all participants."

"One of the needs identified during the 1996 forum was that there should be better access to existing scientific and technical literature and new developments in scientific research associated with CCBs," Karpan said. "In response to this need, a steering committee was formed that developed the CCB Information Network Website hosted by OSM (www.mcrcc.osmre.gov/ccb/home.htm). However, many other questions and concerns remain. That's why the steering committee decided to conduct this latest forum."

For further information about the forum or registration, contact Kimery Vories (OSM) by calling 618.463.6463 extension 103, fax 618.463.6470, or e-mail: kvories@osmre.gov.

OSM Releases Annual Reports on CD-ROM

Office of Surface Mining (OSM) Director Kathy Karpan recently released a 20 year compilation of the agency's Annual Reports on CD-ROM disk. Copies of the CD, which contains each OSM Annual Report from 1978-1998, will be distributed to the public upon request. They may be ordered electronically at www.osmre.gov/order1.htm, or contact: Chuck Meyers, Office of Communications, Office of Surface Mining, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20240, Telephone: 202.208.7940, Fax: 202.501.0549.

NMA Urges OSM/States to Adjust Ownership and Control Rules

The National Mining Association (NMA) has formally requested the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and state regulatory authorities to take action with regard to their respective rules on ownership and control in light of two U.S. Court of Appeal decisions in lawsuits filed by NMA challenging the rules. The rules serve as the basis for the computerized Applicant/Violator System (AVS) which blocks the permits of companies that have outstanding violations or unpaid penalties or AML fees. In its letter to OSM, NMA requests that the agency re-notice the pending proposed rules on ownership and control in light of the most recent Court of Appeals decision; issue a suspension notice to conform the existing federal rules to the court's decision; and begin the process of disapproving state program provisions that reflect the defective federal rules. The letter sent to state regulatory authorities urges them to begin the process of revising their state program rules to reflect the Court of Appeals' decisions independently of any action by OSM. OSM is expected to issue final rules on ownership and control before the summer, assuming the agency does not choose to reopen the rule.

Engineering Challenge Issued to High School Students

The Energy Department's Office of Industrial Technology (OIT) and the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) with the cooperative participation of the mining industry via the National Mining Association (NMA) are offering a high school engineering competition based on technical problems in each of the nine basic industries of the future -- mining, glass, agriculture, forest products, steel, metal casting, chemicals, aluminum, and petroleum. The competition is part of the Mining Industry of the Future program.

JETS is a national organization that promotes interest in engineering, science, mathematics, and technology by providing real-world experience and problem-solving experience to high school students. One of the JETS programs, TEAM+S (Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science) is a unique competition that helps prepare today's students for tomorrow's world. TEAM+S introduces students to an "engineering team" work environment. Students work cooperatively to solve objective and subjective engineering problems. Teams of four to eight students compete to solve problem areas for each industry. The nine winning teams will be invited to Washington, DC for a poster display and formal awards ceremony early next year.

A "problem area and solution team" made up of mining industry technical experts are working on the formulation of a problem. Mentors from the industry will work with local TEAM+S site and student participants.

President Submits $1.8 Trillion FY01 Proposed Budget

In February, President Clinton sent Congress his proposed Fiscal Year 2001 (FY01) budget calling for $1.8 trillion in spending, a tax cut, and efforts to protect the Social Security System. The budget spending amount sets an all-time record. According to officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), the FY01 Interior budget focuses on protecting and restoring natural resources through President Clinton's "Lands Legacy Initiative." Lands Legacy spending is expected to reach $1.4 billion.

The FY01 budget request for the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) in DOI includes an increase of $15.3 million for the abandoned mine land (AML) program, and an approximately $5 million increase for state mining regulatory programs. The proposal also includes an accompanying document extending the AML fee for 10 years, through 2014. The Administration also proposed a 5% net smelter "user fee" to be applied to hardrock mining activities on federal lands.

The FY01 budget requests $18.9 million for the Department of Energy (DOE), a 9% increase over current-year levels. According to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, this increase is merited because DOE's technology research and development programs were "major engines of U.S. economic growth." However, funding for fossil energy research and development activities is requested at $375.5 million, a drop from the FY00 figure. The administration is recommending a $115 million rescission in the Clean Coal Technology program, and $4 million for the Mining Industry of the Future Program. The Administration is seeking an overall $4 billion for research on global climate change, including $1.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development. The budget request also contains $233 million for research and development "to develop next-generation technologies for coal combustion with much higher energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions."

The FY01 budget request contains $7.26 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a heavy emphasis on water programs. $227 million is included in the request for EPA's portion of the Administration's Climate Change Technology Initiative, a program to promote voluntary measures to reduce energy use and cut back on emissions that can contribute to climate change. Other clean air budget requests include $65.2 million for particulate matter research, $214 million in grants to state and local governments, and $17.8 million for stationary source programs. $50 million is included to deal with water quality issues in the Great Lakes, $250 million to help states deal with nonpoint source pollution, $160 million in grant money for states to implement clean water programs, and $800 million for the state revolving fund (SRF), from which states borrow for their clean water programs. The EPA request also includes $1.45 billion for cleanup of hazardous waste at Superfund sites.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) budget requests an increase of $14.2 million and 40 employees over the FY00 budget. Coal and metal/nonmetal enforcement activities are projected to increase by $4.2 million and $5.5 million, respectively. The 40 new employees are requested specifically for the metal/nonmetal sector, based on MSHA's belief that growth in this sector necessitates the additional enforcement personnel.

OSM Issues National Hydrology/AMD Initiatives Report

Office of Surface Mining (OSM) Director Kathy Karpan recently released a National Hydrology/Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Initiatives Report which outlines OSM initiatives and actions for both ongoing and planned actions to strengthen overall efforts to prevent and control AMD and to address water related issues in the regulatory and abandoned mine lands programs. Karpan noted that acid drainage from active and abandoned coal mines has already destroyed thousands of miles of streams nationwide. "While states and the mining industry have made progress in preventing acid mine drainage from active operations, we have more work ahead to prevent AMD from future mining and to remediate past damage," Karpan said. "Thus, the prevention of acid and toxic discharges from coal mining operations into surface and ground waters, and the remediation of mining-related pollutant discharges, are among [OSM's] highest priorities."

To advance these priorities, OSM established the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative, with a primary focus on AMD from abandoned mines, and the Acid Drainage Technology Initiative, which concerns both the remediation and prevention of AMD from future mining. To complement these efforts, OSM developed policy goals, objectives, and strategies to protect the hydrologic balance in coal mining areas from the effects of AMD.

According to Karpan, OSM developed the outline to provide a framework for the above initiatives and other OSM actions. "This initiative details the policy, oversight, training, and cooperative efforts with state and federal agencies and other groups for AMD problem prevention and clean up," she added. "This is a work in progress and will be updated as needed."

Karpan said that OSM is inviting comments on the initiatives from other federal, state, and local agencies, the coal industry, and coalfield citizens. Copies of the report can be downloaded from OSM's home page at www.osmre.gov, or obtained from Richard Bryson at OSM headquarters in Washington, DC, at 202.208.2776.

IMCC Calendar of Upcoming Meetings:

May 7-10, 2000: IMCC Annual Meeting, Westin Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina.
Interstate Mining Compact Commission
445-A Carlisle Drive | Herndon, VA 20170 | Tel.703.709.8654 | Fax.703.709.8655