|IMCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT ON ACTIVITIES OF THE COMPACT AND PERFORMANCE GOALS -- PRESENTED TO THE COMMISSION on April 20, 2016
The following is a report on recent activities of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) during the period October 25, 2015 – April 15, 2016, as well as a report on the Executive Director’s performance goals for Evaluation Year 2016 (April 1, 2015 – April 15, 2016). For presentation purposes, the report is organized by performance goal. The report for the previous period (April 25, 2015 – October 25, 2015) provides more detailed information for the first part of the performance period and is incorporated by reference. A copy is also available under "Publications" on the IMCC website.
This reporting period continued to be dominated by activities related to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE’s) proposed stream protection rule (SPR) and accompanying draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and regulatory impact assessment (RIA). IMCC submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule and accompanying documents on October 23, 2015. Throughout the period, Congress continued its oversight of the matter with two oversight hearings and the incorporation of a directive in the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill ordering OSMRE to provide documents concerning the SPR to the states for their review and requiring meetings with individual states. Also on the coal front, a fair amount of time and attention was spent responding to legislation (H.R. 4456) that would accelerate payments from the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund to address economic revitalization as part of AML projects. Congressional oversight hearings were also held regarding Good Samaritan protections for those who undertake coal and hardrock AML remediation work. Bonding and financial assurance requirements under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act (CERCLA) also saw heightened attention during the period given the failing financial health of the coal and hardrock mining industries.
Improve Methods for Communication with and Information Exchange Among the Member States to Enhance State Regulatory Program Implementation
During the performance period, IMCC published two e-newsletters and sent approximately 70 informational e-memos to the member states on the following subjects: FY 2016 appropriations; the FY 2017 budget; MSHA’s state assistance grants program; U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) issues; AML and Good Samaritan issues; sage grouse and bat protection policies under the Endangered Species Act; EPA’s CERCLA 108(b) rulemaking regarding financial assurance requirements for the hardrock mining industry; OSMRE rulemakings and policies, especially related to stream protection; federal coal leasing policy; reclamation bonding; and mine mapping. These e-memos were in addition to those regarding meeting announcements and logistics and conference calls, reported on below.
IMCC continues its working relationship with the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) and participated in the NAAMLP Winter Meeting from March 8 – 10, 2016 in Sacramento, CA. Ryan Ellis prepared and presented an overview of pending federal legislation that impacts coal and hardrock AML programs. Mr. Conrad provided a regulatory and legislative issues briefing at the committee and business meetings on March 9 and 10. Several conference calls were held during the period with the NAAMLP membership to discuss two key developments: 1) an AML pilot project approved as part of the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill that distributed $90 million to three Appalachian states and 2) a recently introduced bill (H.R. 4456) that would accelerate payments from the AML Trust Fund to address economic revitalization projects. Calls were held on January 7 and 15 and on February 12. IMCC also participated in a call with Representative Griffith’s (R-VA) staff on February 12 and in a meeting with Representative Rogers’ (R-KY) staff on February 17 and March 14 to discuss H.R. 4456. IMCC staff met with OSMRE AML staff via conference call on February 26 to discuss AML Trust Fund distribution issues.
IMCC staff has been meeting with a joint working group from NAAMLP and the IMCC Minerals Education Committee to assist with the development of an information/educational poster that focuses on the work of the states in reclaiming abandoned mine lands. A conference call was held on January 7 to continue work on the matter. IMCC has also been assisting the Commonwealth of Virginia with preparations for the 2018 NAAMLP Annual Conference which will be held in Williamsburg, Virginia. Conference calls with the Virginia AML staff were held on December 16, 2015 and February 1, 2016.
IMCC staff spent considerable time during the period wrapping up its work on the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI). IMCC attended a meeting in Washington, DC of the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) (on which IMCC has served as a member) on December 16 and 17, 2015, at which time the first USEITI reconciliation report was approved. IMCC also served as a member of the Contextual Narrative Work Group and the State and Tribal Opt-in Subcommittee. A total of 14 conference calls and/or meetings of the Subcommittees and Work Groups were held during the period. As part of our work on these various committees, IMCC staff prepared several discussion documents and clarification memos. IMCC terminated its participation on the MSG effective December 31, 2015.
During the period, IMCC held and facilitated six conference calls regarding reclamation bonding requirements under SMCRA and other state noncoal mining regulatory programs. IMCC met via conference call with OSMRE’s Financial Assurance Coordination Team (FACT) on December 16, 2015 to provide a state perspective on bonding issues and concerns. IMCC met via conference call with officials from Wyoming to discuss self-bonding issues on January 14, 2016 and then with IMCC member states that same day to provide an update on bonding issues and concerns. IMCC established a Bonding Work Group which met via conference call on January 28 to discuss next steps for IMCC in the bonding arena. The Work Group met again via conference call on February 23 to prepare for a meeting with OSMRE’s FACT held on March 16 and 17 in St. Louis, which IMCC staff attended. A follow up conference call was held on March 30 to discuss next steps in light of the FACT meeting. A letter dated April 4 was sent to OSMRE Director Pizarchik regarding the matter. IMCC also met with a group of investors via conference call on December 16 to discuss bonding concerns. During the period, Mr. Conrad was interviewed on multiple occasions by reporters from national, regional and energy-related news organizations regarding the states’ perspectives on bonding issues.
IMCC engaged in regular communications with EPA and the Western Governors’ Association regarding a proposed rule under Section 108(b) of CERCLA to establish financial assurance requirements for the hardrock mining sector. IMCC and WGA held a conference call with EPA officials to discuss next steps in the rulemaking process on April 11. A webinar regarding the rule is scheduled for April 26 in which IMCC will participate.
Enhance Existing Working Relationships with Federal Government Agencies and Congress to Effectively Communicate State Positions on Key Issues and to Foster Partnerships
IMCC attended a joint hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on the Interior and Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules on December 8, 2015 entitled, “Examining the Stream Protection Rule.” The sole witness for the hearing was Janice Schneider, Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. The purpose of the hearing largely revolved around examining the nature of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE’s) consultation with cooperating state agencies during the development of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) related to the proposed Stream Protection Rule (SPR), and touched on the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) associated with the SPR.
On February 3, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held an oversight hearing entitled, “The Stream Protection Rule: Impacts on the Environment and Implications for Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act Implementation.” The latest in a series of hearings scrutinizing the Office of Surface Mining’s Proposed Stream Protection Rule, this hearing saw much of the same debate play out. Witnesses included Lanny Erdos, Chief of the Division of Mineral Resources Management within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources who presented a states’ perspective on the matter. IMCC assisted with witness preparation and attended the hearing with Mr. Erdos.
IMCC testified at a legislative hearing by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the House Natural Resources Committee on November 4, 2015 regarding Good Samaritan protections for AML remediation projects with Eric Cavazza of Pennsylvania serving as IMCC’s witness. IMCC also attended a legislative hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on March 3 regarding pending Good Samaritan legislation that has been drafted by the Colorado congressional delegation. IMCC submitted a statement for the record following the hearing. IMCC staff met with staff of the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 9 to discuss Good Samaritan legislative strategy.
In preparation for the potential movement in the House and Senate of Good Samaritan legislation, IMCC staff has been working with representatives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Trout Unlimited and Pennsylvania watershed groups to explore the development of an amendment that specifically addresses Good Sam protections for coal AML sites. Conference calls with various members of this group took place on December 9, January 11, 14, 21 and 27; February 5, 12 and 29; March 4 and 15 and April 7. IMCC has also been working with the Keystone Center in Colorado to explore potential Good Sam solutions under CERCLA. Conference calls were held on November 19 and January 22.
IMCC met with congressional staff from the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee either in person or via conference call to discuss OSMRE’s proposed FY 2016 budget and the Administration’s AMLER proposal on several occasions during the period, including a meeting on December 28. A conference call with OSMRE and the states was held on February 10 to discuss OSMRE’s proposed FY 2017 budget. IMCC submitted statements with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 14 concerning OSMRE’s FY 2017 budget. IMCC attended hearings on OSM’s FY 2017 budget on March 2 and 3 before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and on March 23 before the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee.
IMCC continues to serve as a member of the executive management team on bat protection issues and guidelines. Conference calls were held on November 15, 2015 and February 3, 2016 to discuss bat protection issues, particularly focused on the Northern Long Ear Bat for which an ESA threatened listing decision was published in 2015 and for which a final 4(d) rule was published in January.
As activity continued at the congressional level regarding OSMRE’s stream protection rule, IMCC continued to facilitate discussions among the member states regarding next steps. A conference call was held on January 12 to discuss the states’ reaction to the Omnibus directive that requires OSMRE to provide certain data and information to the states and to provide for individual state meetings to discuss these documents and their implications for the states, including the need for changes to the proposed rule. A further conference call was held on January 20 to scope out a strategy for how the states would respond to the directive in terms of requesting the data and information and providing for review by the states and meetings thereafter. OSMRE sent a letter to the states on March 1 regarding the agency’s intentions concerning compliance with the directive. IMCC held a conference call with the states on March 4 to discuss the letter and agreed to submit a letter to OSMRE via IMCC regarding their response, particularly with respect to a proposal by OSMRE that a states’ meeting occur during the IMCC annual meeting in Lake Placid. The letter was sent to OSMRE on March 7.
Based on a March 23 response from OSMRE to this letter in which the agency announced a series of regional meetings with states to discuss technical issues, IMCC held a conference call on March 29 to discuss next steps. It was agreed that IMCC should develop a formal resolution on the matter. A follow up conference call was held on April 4 to approve the resolution, which was sent to OSMRE on April 5.
IMCC continues to serve on the National Technology Transfer Team which coordinates OSMRE’s applied science and related technical initiatives, with Paul Rothman of Kentucky serving as IMCC’s representative on the Team. OSM has also reinstituted its underground mine mapping steering committee, which is facilitated by IMCC. Conference calls of the steering committee were held on March 13 and 23 to discuss a solicitation for mine mapping projects as part of OSMRE’s applied science program.
IMCC provided briefings on both Title V and Title IV issues at a western OSMRE/States meeting held on December 15 and 16 in Denver. IMCC participated via conference call.
IMCC’s Mine Safety and Health Committee met with members of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) pursuant to our MOU with MSHA on March 2 in Arlington, VA at MSHA’s headquarters. The states met the day before to prepare for the meeting. IMCC submitted statements to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Committees regarding MSHA’s FY 2017 budget proposal on March 14.
Mr. Conrad presented a paper entitled “Moving Targets and Sitting Lame Ducks: A DC Update” at the 29th Annual Technology Transfer Seminar of the
Indiana Society of Mining and Reclamation on December 8 in Evansville, IN.
IMCC has been meeting on a regular basis with SIAS Global to discuss a database that will include a standardized index of information describing minesite activities and conditions in order to provide indicators useful for estimating financial exposure by permit, mining complex, and total bonded exposure at coal and hardrock mining operations throughout the U.S. A conference call was held on January 26 to further explore the potential for this technology and state involvement.
Advance the Organizational, Institutional, Financial and Administrative Integrity of IMCC. Pursue Additional Member States and Retain Existing Member States.
IMCC continues its contract for legislative and regulatory affairs services with the NAAMLP in the amount of $20,000.
The state of New Mexico enacted legislation bringing the state into the Compact as a full member state on February 18. The state of Colorado continues to work toward the passage of legislation to bring it into the Compact as a full member. IMCC continues to discuss membership with the states of Montana, California and Arizona. IMCC met with representatives from the state of California to discuss IMCC membership via conference call on February 10 and at a meeting on March 9 in conjunction with the NAAMLP conference in Sacramento.
Several IMCC member states met via conference call on November 16, 2015 to discuss and make final revisions to the eligibility criteria for the new IMCC Mine Safety awards, which will be presented for the first time at IMCC’s annual meeting in Lake Placid. The award selection committee met via conference call on March 9 to select winners.
The IMCC Awards Committee met via conference call on March 7 to select winners of the IMCC national reclamation awards for 2016.
The IMCC Education Work Group met via conference call on March 7 to select winners of the IMCC national minerals education awards.
IMCC staff, along with Butch Lambert of Virginia and Tracy Davis of North Carolina, visited with agency staff from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on February 4 in Columbia, South Carolina and with agency staff from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on February 11 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Both trips were very helpful in shoring up our working relationship with both states. Plans call for IMCC staff to meet with agency staff from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in May and with staff from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with IMCC’s annual meeting in Lake Placid. In preparation for these meetings, the Membership Work Group met via conference call on December 17 to discuss a strategy for moving forward with these meetings and to prepare various materials for use during the meetings. A further conference call was held on January 13 to review the membership materials and the final plan of action for meetings with member and non-member states.
The IMCC Executive Committee met via conference call on December 17 to discuss the annual meeting format and the role of committee chairs in furthering the work and leadership of the Commission. A further conference call was held on January 6 to formalize plans for the annual meeting format and committee chair roles. A conference call with the committee chairs was held on January 26 to discuss the matter with them and make assignments.
The IMCC Finance and Administrative Committee met via conference call on April 5 to review and approve the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017, including approval of staff compensation. The Committee also reviewed current financial statements and projected budgets for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.