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September 2000, VOL. 18, NO. 3

Register Now for IMCC's Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Interstate Mining Compact Commission's (IMCC) Fall Meeting will be held at the Washington Monarch Hotel in Washington, D.C. on October 31 - November 1, 2000. Standing committee meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, October 31. An informal reception will take place on Tuesday evening. The Executive Commission Business Meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 1.

Registration and hotel reservation information is available now from IMCC> Agendas have been mailed to IMCC COmmissioners and committee members and are available to others upon request. For further information contact: Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

IMCC 2001 Annual Meeting Scheduled for Hot Springs, Arkansas

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission's (IMCC) 2001 Annual Meeting is scheduled for April 22-25, 2001 at the historic Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa located in the Hot Springs National Park at the end of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

A welcoming reception the evening of Sunday, April 22 will kick-off the meeting. General sessions will be eld on Monday, April 23. That evening attendees will enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Belle of Hot Springs at the beautiful Lake Hamilton. All day on Tuesday, April 24 IMCC standing committees will meet followed by the Annual Awards Banquet that evening. The Annual Executive Commission Business Meeting on Wednesday, April 25 will conclude the meeting.

IMCC Publishes New Membership Directory and Updated "Compact" Document

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently published an updated 2000 Membership Directory. The directory lists contact information for Commissioner of IMCC and their representatives, and for all IMCC committee members.

IMCC also published an updated version of the Compact document which contains IMCC's Bylaws. The new version reflects bylaw amendments adopted by the Commission over the past few years, including access to records and associate membership.

To request copies of either of these documents, contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

IMCC Mineral Education Workshops Scheduled

The next Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) Mineral Education Workshop for Teachers is scheduled to take place at the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 2-3, 2000. The workshop is being sponsored by the Indiana Division of Reclamation. School teachers from the state, along with teachers from Kentucky and Illinois, have been invited to register for the free hands-on workshop. An attendance of sixty teachers is anticipated. A full day of hands-on earth science activities will take place on November 2. On November 3, a half-day mine site tour will be hosted by Black Beauty Coal Company's Farmersburg Mine, which is one of the largest active mines in Indiana at this time. Teachers will have the opportunity to view first-hand the preparation plant where coal is washed and prepared for sale, an active pit where coal removal is ongoing, some of the large equipment used in mining, and examples of successfully reclaimed farmland.

The postponed workshop for North and South Carolina teachers which had orginially been scheduled for Charleston, South Carolina in April 2000 has been tentatively rescheduled to take place on March 16-17, 2000 in Salisbury, North Carolina at Catawba College's new Center for the Environment. Confirmation and further details on the workshop wil be forthcoming. For more information regarding IMCC's workshops, contact Beth A. Botsis at 703.709.8654, or E-Mail: bbotsis@imcc.isa.us.

IMCC Submits Comments on Remining and Historic Preservation Rules

The Interstate Mining Compact Commision (IMCC) recently submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning a proposed rule published on April 11, 2000 at 65 Fed. Reg. 19440 which would amend EPA's current regulations at 40 CFR Part 434 for the Coal Mining Point Source Category. The proposed rule would add two new subcategories to the existing regulations: the first would address pre-existing discharges at coal remining oeprations; the second would establish a new subcategory that would address drainage from coal mining reclamationareas in the arid and semiarid western United States.

IMCC's comments focused on the coal remining subcategory of the proposed rule and commended EPA for moving forward with the rule in a timely manner given the time-sensitive nature of remining operations. IMCC recommended several revisions to the proposal in order to assure the usefulness and viability of the final rule. In particular, IMCC urged EPA to consider the adoption of a Best Management Practices (BMP)-based permit in lieu of numeric effluent limitations in certain situations. "From the beginning, IMCC has advocated the incorporation of this type of permit as essential to an effective remining program, particularly where certain types of conditions are encountered at remining sites. The bottom line for us is that, without the incorporation of this type of BMP-based remining permit, the potential portended by this rulemaking is significantly diminished."

In its comments on recently proposed rules by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, IMCC focused on the proposed definition of "undertaking" and argued that "it is an unjustified stretch to assert this definition would include federal veto authority of state permitting actions under the states' approved regulatory programs, which is implied by the rules." In commenting on the role of the states in the area of historic preservation, IMCC stated that "the time is ripe for OSM and the Advisory Council to work with affected states to resolve the outstanding permitting issues concerning section 106 responsibilities, ideally in the context of adjustments to the Council's rules and/or OSM's rules. To delay further will only complicate the existing confusion and second-guessing that has become a routine part of the permitting scenario where section 106 is concerned."

IMCC Adopts Resolution Re. Mining on Federal Lands

The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) recently adopted a resolution concerning proposed revisions to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) rules at 43 CFR Part 3809 regarding the regulation of mining and other activities on public lands of the United States. The resolution was submitted to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

IMCC's resolution suports the position of the Western Governors' Association and recommends that BLM reconsider the need for the proposed rule in light of the findings and recommendations of the National Research Council's report "Hardrock Mining on Federal Lands." IMCC also recommends that BLM work with the states to address any regulatory gaps that may exist and to develop solutions that are state specific.

Draft Bill to Amend Title IV of SMCRA

A draft bill was recently prepared by the House Legislative Counsel for Barbara Cubin (R-WY), Chairman of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, regarding amendments to Title IV of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The draft is intended to stimulate discussion in preparation for what will likely be an active legislative debate in the new 107th Congress which will convene in January, 2001. The Subcommittee has solicited comments from IMCC and others on what an amended Title IV of SMCRA should look like, as well as the future of the AML Trust Fund.

House Passes H.R. 4144

The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 4144, the Coal Accountability & Retired Employee Act of 2000. This bill provides for accumulated interest in the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Fund that is designated for use by the United Mine WOrkers' Combined Benefit Fund (CBF) to be transferred to the CBF immediately. The bill was introduced by Mr. Rahall of West Virginia and was marked up by Mrs. Cubin's Subcommittee in late July and then passed by the full House Resources Committee. It now awaits action by the full House. Under the terms of the bill, $96 million of accumulated interest would be transferred to the CBF for assigned as well as unassigned (orphaned) beneficiaries. A companion bill, S. 2584, has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Robb and Warner.

OSM to Sponsor Bat Conservation Conference

In Novemeber of this year, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will be sponsoring a technical interactive forum on "Bat Conservation and Mining" in St. Louis. Several state officials will be participating, including Dr. Richard Wahrer of Kentucky, who will be representing the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC), Mark Mesch of Utah, who will be representing the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs, and Homer Milford of New Mexico, who will be representing the Western Interstate Energy Board. Dr. Wahrer will present an overview of eastern and midcontinent states' experiences with bat conservation. The forum is scheduled to take place November 14-16, 2000 at the Airport Hilton in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information contact: Kimery Vories at 608.463.6463, extension 103, or E-Mail: kvories@osmre.gov.

OSM Draft Document Released Re. PHC/CHIA Guidelines

The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) recently announced that it has completed Phase I of the revision to its guidance documents for determining Probably Hydrologic Consequences (PHC) and for preparing Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessments (CHIAs). The Phase I document, entitled "Permitting Hydrology -- Phase I Baseline Data", which addresses the collection of baseline geologic and hydrologic data needed for permit application preparation, is now available for review. The document is available from OSM Field Offices. FOr further information contact: Doug Growitz, OSM at 202.208.2634, or E-Mail: dgrowitz@osmre.gov.

NMA Files Briefs in VER Lawsuit

The National Mining Association (NMA) filed opening briefs in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in a suit challenging the Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) regulatory definition of "valid existing rights" (VER) as used in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). OSM spent 20 years considering this regulation and ended up adopting the "All Permits Rule," requiring the owner to have "obtained, or made a good faith effort to obtain, all permits and other authorizations required to conduct surface mining operations" prior to SMCRA. NMA argues in its brief that the legislative history makes clear that Congtress meant neither to enlarge nor dimish existing property rights, but simply to preserve them and, in doing so, to avoid compensable "takings" of property. "OSM adopted this standard even though -- indeed, precisely because -- it was the most restrictive alternative under consideration, recognizing that it "has the greatest potential for takings implications" of any of the standards," NMA contended in its lawsuit. NMA points out that even OSM admits that "few persons will qualify for VER under this standard" and that the rule shoud be set aside as contrary to the language and legislative history of SMCRA.
Interstate Mining Compact Commission
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