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November 2005, VOL. 23, NO. 2

IMCC Holds 2005 Mid-Year Meeting in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 2005 Mid-Year Meeting was held October 18-19 at the Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

The Noncoal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Mine Safety and Health Committee met jointly on the morning of Tuesday, October 18. The joint meeting of the Coal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Abandoned Mine Lands Committee followed. On Tuesday night attendees enjoyed a networking reception.

The Resolutions Committee and Finance and Administrative Committee met jointly on the morning of Wednesday, October 19, followed by the Annual Executive Commission Business Meeting.

IMCC’s 2006 Mid-Year Meeting is scheduled for Lake Placid, New York at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid Resort on October 4-5, 2006. More information on this and other future IMCC meetings is posted on the IMCC web site at www.imcc.isa.us (“Conference Info” link) as it becomes available.

North Dakota to Host 2006 IMCC Annual Meeting: Registration Begins

Bismarck, North Dakota will be the site of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 2006 Annual Meeting. The meeting will take place at the Radisson Hotel Bismarck from April 30 through May 3.

The meeting will commence with a welcoming reception the night of Sunday, April 30. The IMCC Environmental Affairs Committee, Noncoal Section will meet on Monday, May 1following a welcoming address (speaker TBD). A tour of the Great Plains Coal Gasification Plant is scheduled for Monday afternoon. On Monday evening attendees will enjoy a traditional Mandan Pitchfork Barbeque and have the opportunity to visit the Custer House and other historic sites at Fort Lincoln.

The Coal Section of the Environmental Affairs Committee will meet on Tuesday, May 2. On Tuesday night IMCC’s annual reclamation and mineral education awards will be presented at the annual awards banquet.

Resolutions and Finance Committees will meet the morning of Wednesday, May3, followed by the Annual Executive Commission Business Meeting.

Registration forms, including hotel reservation information for the meeting are included in this issue of The Compact newsletter. Contact: Beth Botsis, phone: 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us for further information. Also check the IMCC web site for future meeting information at www.imcc.isa.us (“Conference Info” link). Detailed itineraries and agendas will be mailed to IMCC member states closer to the meeting date.

New Publications Available from IMCC

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently published it’s 2004 Annual Report. IMCC also recently published a new updated Membership Directory. Copies of the 2004 Annual Report and the Membership Directory were distributed to member states and other interested parties in September and October of 2005.

For copies of these publications, contact Beth Botsis at phone: 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

Nominations Requested for IMCC 2006 Annual Reclamation and Minerals Education Awards

Nominations are currently being accepted for the Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) 20th Annual Reclamation Awards and 6th Annual Minerals Education Awards. Each year the awards are presented during a banquet held in conjunction with the IMCC’s Annual Meeting. The 2006 banquet will be held in Bismarck, North Dakota at the Radisson Hotel on the evening of May 2.

Each year there are two reclamation awards presented: one in the coal, and one in the noncoal minerals categories. When deemed appropriate by the Awards Committee, a special award recognizing the special efforts of a small operator is also presented.

Competition for the awards is limited to the 21 IMCC member states with each state authorized to make one nomination in each category. To be eligible, a mining company must have been actively mining/reclaiming the site during the 12-month period prior to the nomination. State regulatory authorities must submit the nominations to IMCC.

The IMCC Reclamation Awards Program is intended to identify and recognize companies and individuals who maintain compliance with regulatory requirements and apply innovative techniques to reclaim land following mining activities. Through these awards, the IMCC is commending companies that have taken extra efforts to implement techniques which protect people and the environment from any adverse effects of mining, while at the same time allowing access to minerals that are vital to our nation’s economy and the well-being of our society.

IMCC sponsors two annual National Minerals Education Awards to recognize the efforts of those who educate others about the use of minerals and the issues associated with mining, particularly from an environmental perspective, and those who have undertaken special outreach programs to inform the public about mining. The two awards consist of: the Mining Awareness Educator Award, which is presented to a teacher or school from an IMCC member state, and a Public Outreach Award, which is presented to an industry, environmental, citizen, or other group, or to a state government body.

Nominations for the IMCC’s National Minerals Education Awards do not have to be submitted by the state regulatory authorities, but should be submitted directly to the IMCC.

Good Samaritan Bill Introduced in Congress

Senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard, both of Colorado, recently introduced a “Good Samaritan” bill (S. 1848) in the Senate. The legislation is designed to facilitate reclamation of abandoned and inactive hard rock mines. The bill calls for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued permit for remediation and provides legal protection from open-ended liability for mining companies, communities, non-profit organizations or individuals involved in cleaning up abandoned sites. Remining of areas needing site cleanup is also allowed under the legislation. Until now, the absence of liability protection and incentives provided by remining have been an impediment to cleanup of more complicated abandoned mine sites.

The bill offers protection from liability under such laws as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Federal Water Pollution Control Act (CWA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Solid Waste Disposal Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), if the terms of the EPA permit are met. It also applies to applicable state and local environmental laws.

The bill allows “Good Samaritans” to obtain a permit after submitting an action strategy outlining problems to be fixed and a plan for completion. The host state also would have to approve the permit application and the work plan. The bill was referred to the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, upon which both senators serve.

OSM Awards Presented to State AML Programs

The Office of Surface Mining’s (OSM) annual Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program awards honoring outstanding AML reclamation were recently awarded to programs in Colorado, Indiana and Kentucky. The awards were presented at the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) Annual Conference in Bristol, Virginia.

Three awards were presented to Kentucky for work at the Spewing Camp Branch Refuse AML Project: the Eastern Regional Award for exemplary reclamation achievement; the National Award for most exemplary reclamation project of 2005; and the People’s Choice Award, decided by a vote of active mine operators, citizens, educators and reclamation specialists.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Reclamation received the Mid-Continent Region Award for exemplary reclamation at abandoned mine land site 380, the Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area in Winslow, Indiana.

The Colorado Inactive Mine Reclamation Project (CIMRP) received the Western Regional Award for operations that were completed with the help of students from Mesa State College.

NAAMLP Honors IMCC’s Greg Conrad

The National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) presented the Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s (IMCC) Executive Director Greg Conrad with its Stan Barnard Memorial Award at the 2005 Annual Conference in Bristol, Virginia. The award is given to an individual who exhibits qualities of outstanding dedication, commitment and hard work toward the enhancement of the NAAMLP. Greg was recognized for his assistance to NAAMLP over the past 15 years in the areas of legislative strategy, legal counsel and policy guidance. In particular, Greg was commended for his diligent efforts in advancing the position of the states and tribes concerning reauthorization of the AML program under Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The award is presented each year at the Association’s annual conference.

IMCC Facilitates Panel Discussions at COGMA

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission’s Greg Conrad developed and facilitated two panel discussions at the recent Conference of Government Mining Attorneys held on August 29-31 in Annapolis, Maryland. The first panel explored remining and associated water quality impacts and included Roger Hornberger and Dennis Whitaker of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bill Telliard of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Jay Hawkins of the Office of Surface Mining. The second panel discussed reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land Program under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) and panelists included Danny Lytton of OSM and Steve Hohmann of the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources. Copies of the briefing papers that were prepared by IMCC for the COGMA panels are available from IMCC.

IMCC Submits Comments on EPA’s Effluent Limitation Guidelines for Manganese

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act. In its comments, IMCC requested that EPA revisit its effluent limitations for manganese in the coal mining point source category at 40 CFR Part 434. Pursuant to the approach suggested by IMCC, the applicability of the manganese effluent limits would be adjusted based on the impacted watershed, the quality of the receiving stream and the treatment technology employed. IMCC noted that pursuant to its approach, the states and coal operators will recognize program and treatment efficiencies that will reduce costs while ensuring adequate environmental protection, as envisioned by EPA’s rules and the Clean Water Act.

IMCC Testifies at Senate Hearing on AML Reauthorization

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) testified at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on September 27 concerning pending legislation to reauthorize Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program. Steve Hohmann of the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources, represented both IMCC and the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs. He stated that “the AML Trust Fund, and the work of the states and tribes pursuant to the distribution of moneys from the Fund, have played an important role in achieving the goals and objectives set forth by Congress when SMCRA was enacted – including protecting public health and safety, enhancing the environment, providing employment, and adding to the economies of communities impacted by past coal mining.” Mr. Hohmann went on to note that the two bills that were the subject of the hearing (S. 1701 and S. 961) address several of the states’ concerns and are an excellent starting point toward AML reauthorization. “We can support most of the provisions in both of these bills” he stated. “As a bottom line, we believe it is essential that expedited action be taken by Congress to preserve and ideally enhance this vital program.” Mr. Hohmann went on to make several suggestions for potential amendments to the bills. A copy of Mr. Hohmann’s testimony is available from IMCC.

Final Mountaintop Mining EIS Similar to Draft Document

The final programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on mountaintop mining and valley fills issued by three agencies recently essentially adopts many of the same proposals contained in a draft EIS issued in June of 2003.

The document follows up an agreement by the agencies – the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fish and wildlife Service (FWS) and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) – to develop policies, guidance and coordinated decision-making regarding regulation of mountaintop mining and valley fills. It completes the process that was started by a settlement agreement in Bragg v. Robertson, a 1999 district court decision banning valley fills that was eventually overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While not a blueprint for actions on a site-specific basis, the programmatic EIS clarifies lines of responsibility among the agencies to improve compliance and enforcement of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).

In putting together the final document, the agencies concluded changes to the draft would be minor. In addition, the agencies adopted Alternative II in the final document, the same as proposed in the draft. Alternative II integrates appropriate CWA and SMCRA features into a coordinated regulatory process to determine the size, number and location of valley fills in waters of the U.S. The COE would determine whether an individual permit (IP) under CWA Section 404 is appropriate, relying in part on SMCRA information provided by the applicant as part of a joint permit application.

If an IP is needed, CWA Section 404(b)(1) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance determinations would be made. If a general permit, such as Nationwide Permit 21 (NWP 21) is appropriate, the Corps would process the application following the SMCRA review. COE decisions regarding NWP 21 would rely, to the greatest extent possible and consistent with legal requirements, on the information and conclusions from the relevant SMCRA review.

The document can be viewed online at: www.epa.gov/region3/mtntop/index.htm.
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