206 Peterson, House colleagues send major Abandoned Mine bill to Senate 2006-12-11 13:58:55
P R E S S R E L E A S E
C O N G R E S S M A N John E. Peterson
Proudly Serving Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District
For Immediate Release – December 8, 2006
Contact: Chris Tucker – (202) 225-5121
Plan would allow Pennsylvania to collect $1.5 billion to remediate most dangerous mines
Washington, DC – The state of Pennsylvania will receive nearly $1.5 billion in federal funding from an account created to help states reclaim Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) thanks to legislation passed this afternoon by the U.S. House and co-written by Congressman John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville. The legislation, attached to a broader measure that also included Peterson-backed provisions to expand access to vital energy reserves offshore, passed today by a vote of 367-45 and will now be sent to the Senate for final approval.
“The health and safety hazards created by abandoned coal mines constitute a national emergency for which there must be a swift, national response,” said Peterson. “For far too long, though, the federal fund created to accelerate the clean-up and reclamation of our most dangerous sites was sending far too much money to places where there wasn’t an abandoned mine to be found. Today, we changed that formula – and with it, created the conditions necessary to clean up our sites sooner than we could have ever imagined.”
“This is the most important economic development and environmental legislation to affect our state and other historic coal production states that has ever passed,” said R. John Dawes, chairman of the Pennsylvania AML Campaign, a coalition of 200 conservation and watershed associations. “This is life-saving legislation that goes beyond addressing the health impacts of living near these sites,” adding that more people have died in the past four years as a result of dangerous abandoned mine lands than in oft-publicized underground mining accidents.
The AML Fund was created nearly 30 years ago to finance the cleanup of hazardous abandoned mine sites across the country. Under the current program, Pennsylvania collects roughly $23 million each year to reclaim the most dangerous mine lands across the state. But with the current need for funding estimated at more than $1 billion, it would take almost 50 years at the government’s current pace to clean up each of these high-priority sites.
The AML language the House passed today will allow Pennsylvania to claim more than triple that figure over the next 10 years. In fact, starting in fiscal year 2008 and going through until 2017, state officials will receive approximately $680 million – with further adjustments promising to yield as much as $1.5 billion over the next 15 years. All told, the AML’s new funding formula would allow state and local officials to reclaim and recover nearly all the state’s high-priority sites a full 45 years earlier than they would have under the current arrangement.
“Finally, and thankfully, we now have commonsense legislation that will go a very long way to fixing the long-standing problems of abandoned mine lands and waters across our state,” said Bruce Golden, regional coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. “Pennsylvania, whose AML problems dwarf all others, owes a great deal of gratitude to Congressman Peterson for the environmental good that will come from this historic piece of legislation.
“It’s a new day in Pennsylvania,” he added.
The legislation must now be considered by the U.S. Senate before being sent to the president for his signature.
205 Congress approves bill extending abandoned mine program 2006-12-11 13:49:26
WASHINGTON – About $1 billion in relief could be headed to rural Pennsylvania communities to clean up hazardous and polluting abandoned coal mines under legislation that passed the Senate early Saturday.
The measure, part of a larger bill, would reauthorize the national coal mine reclamation program for 15 years at a cost of $5 billion. The House had approved the legislation on Friday; it now awaits the president’s signature.
Passage of the legislation ends a years-long fight that has pitted coal-producing states against each other.
Nationwide, it is estimated that more than 3.6 million people live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. The price tag to clean up the worst sites is $8.5 billion.
Particularly in eastern U.S. coalfields, the unstable former mine land has been blamed for fatal accidents by hikers and ATV riders – 24 deaths in Pennsylvania were reported last year on abandoned mine land. In addition, toxins from the abandoned mines have left about 4,000 miles of streams and rivers biologically dead in the state. There are also fires inside several former underground mines that have burned for years.
Pennsylvania, which once was king of the coal industry, has an estimated 184,000 acres of land scarred by old coal mines. It is estimated it could take $5 billion to completely clean them up.
The program was created in 1977 as part of sweeping reforms in surface mining. It was based on a per-ton fee that coal companies paid into a fund established for use to clean up the abandoned mine sites. But much of the money over the years was used to pad the federal budget. About $2 billion collected for the fund has not been appropriated for clean-up projects.
In the last decade, Pennsylvania has received about $250 million to clean up its abandoned mines.
Since the program’s creation, much of the nation’s mining has shifted from states in the east like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky to those in the west, like Wyoming.
The western states have not struggled as much with abandoned mine restoration issues because much of the mining has been done with modern mining and reclamation techniques.
Under the current program, half the fees collected go back to the state from which the coal was mined.
The historic coal mining states have complained that Wyoming uses its abandoned mine land fund for public works. The western states, in turn, have complained of bearing the burden of funding the program.
The bill would lower the fees paid into the program and modify the formula so that historic coal mining states with the more serious problems get a higher stake of the money, while Wyoming would still get a huge chunk. It also would continue to fund health benefits for thousands of retired union miners who worked for coal companies that no longer exist – a key issue for West Virginia lawmakers.
It would make spending for the reclamation program mandatory, which means it would not be controlled through the annual appropriations process.
That’s a boon for the coal-producing states, which have long complained that the money is not being used for its intended purpose. 0 888 37 admin
204 Confluence 2007 Conference: Preparing for the Storm 2006-11-30 12:17:51
Stormwater Solutions for Pennsylvania Communities
February 15-16, 2007
Penn Stater Conference Center
State College PA
What’s being planned?
A one-and-a-half day technical workshop focused on implementation of Pennsylvania’s new Stormwater BMP Manual that will build upon PADEP’s BMP Manual training sessions.
Who should come?
Professional engineers and consultants developers, municipal officials, conservation professionals, and watershed stakeholders looking for the opportunity to examine the benefits and challenges of good stormwater management.
What will be covered?
Learn tools and strategies for incorporating stormwater management into site design and land use planning, and for meeting Act 167 NPDES Phase II permitting requirements to ensure protection of public health, property, and the future health of Pennsylvania rivers and streams.
Online registration will begin December 1, 2006. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website Page for more information. Exhibitor space is available. Contact us at (717) 234-5550 or email if interested in exhibiting.
203 GOVERNOR RENDELL INVESTS $27 MILLION TO PROTECT PA’S NATURAL RESOURCES 2006-11-30 10:17:29
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (717) 787-1323
153 Projects Funded Through Historic Growing Greener Programs
HARRISBURG , Continuing his work to improve Pennsylvania’s economic and environmental health, Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced a $27 million investment to clean up streams and rivers, address serious environmental problems at abandoned mine sites and revitalize communities across the state.
The money will finance 153 projects through Pennsylvania’s traditional Growing Greener Program and the voter-approved Growing Greener II bond initiative.
“Growing Greener allows us to leverage state dollars with Pennsylvania’s natural capital; protecting the resources that draw people to live, work and play in the commonwealth,” Governor Rendell said. “Our natural resources are and will continue to be valued as economic, recreational and environmental assets. It is this scenic and wild beauty that makes Pennsylvania so unique.”
Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty announced the Growing Greener investments during a ceremony in Exeter Borough, Luzerne County, where she also awarded nearly $1 million for three grants for planned improvements to Hicks Creek.
“The involvement of local groups is absolutely essential to the success of restoration projects supported by Growing Greener, and the restoration being done here on Hicks Creek is the perfect example of the power of a strong partnership,” McGinty said. “Working together, we can amplify our efforts and achieve significant results for the people of Pennsylvania.”
McGinty presented a combined $916,677 to Exeter Borough, the Hicks Creek Watershed Association and the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation for streambank restoration and stabilization on Hicks Creek.
The three grants , $220,593 to the borough, $246,084 to the watershed association and $450,000 to the coalition , will finance projects that tackle sediment issues, alleviating flooding problems threatening downstream areas as well as curbing the threat of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.
Included in the $27 million, which represents the eighth round of funding awarded by DEP under the traditional Growing Greener program, are $7.9 million in traditional watershed grants and $13.1 million in grants under the voter-approved Growing Greener II bond initiative.
In addition, DEP is recommending $5.9 million in Nonpoint Source Implementation Program Grants, funded through Section 319(h) of the federal Clean Water Act.
Since 1999, DEP has supplied $181.7 million in watershed grants for 1,592 projects in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania through the traditional Growing Greener Program. The grants are used to create or restore wetlands, restore stream buffer zones, eliminate causes of nonpoint source pollution, plug oil and gas wells, reclaim abandoned mine lands and restore aquatic life to streams that were lifeless due to acid mine drainage.
Voters in May 2005 approved a $625 million bond issue to clean up rivers and streams; protect natural areas, open spaces and working farms; and shore up key programs to improve quality of life and revitalize communities across the commonwealth.
Since then, DEP has awarded $28.4 million for 106 watershed projects to make Pennsylvania healthier, a better place to live and more competitive in attracting and supporting business investment through the Growing Greener II initiative.
For more information on Growing Greener, visit DEP’s Web site at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: “Growing Greener.”
The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell’s initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: www.governor.state.pa.us.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a list by county of the $7.9 million in Growing Greener watershed restoration and protection grants:
Watershed Alliance of Adams County Inc. – $15,048 for an evaluation of the groundwater resources in Adams County.
South Fayette Conservation Group – $157,070 for a passive treatment system to treat the Gladden Discharge.
Armstrong Conservation District – $50,000 to reclaim five acres of abandoned mine lands that will be converted to productive pastureland.
Beaver County Conservation District – $150,000 to implement Phase III of the agricultural best management practices initiative in the Raccoon Creek and Connequenessing Creek watersheds.
Broad Top Township – $191,500 to rehabilitate the North Point vertical flow wetland serving the Broad Top Coal Field and set up a long-term operation, maintenance and repair fund.
Bradford County Conservation District – $10,000 to study stream channel legacy sediments.
American Littoral Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network – $51,000 for Phase II of the Upper Tinicum Restoration Project.
East Rockhill Township – $18,150 for retrofit design using stormwater best management practices.
Cambria County Conservation District – $15,000 for Phase I of the Trout Run Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Project.
West Branch Susquehanna Rescue Inc. – $27,000 to design and construct a passive treatment system to treat abandoned mine drainage along the headwaters to the West Branch Susquehanna River.
Clearwater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania Inc. , $450,000 for Phase III of a project to model water availability in the Spring Creek and Spruce Creek Basins.
Pennsylvania State University – $71,000 for streambank stabilization on Halfmoon Creek.
Brandywine Valley Association – $45,500 for the Brandywine Red Streams Blue Initiative.
Boggs Township – $43,000 for the design of a passive treatment system to treat abandoned mine drainage to Morgan Run.
Fairfield Township – $64,995 for assessment and flood protection in the Wymans Run Watershed.
Dauphin County Conservation District – $9,000 to develop a detailed watershed restoration plan in the Little Wiconisco Watershed.
Elk County Conservation District – $10,000 for formation of the Elk County Freshwater Association.
Toby Creek Watershed Association Inc. – $50,000 for design, construction and water evaluation for an additional sedimentation pond at the Brandy Camp Treatment Plant.
Edinboro Lake Watershed Association – $15,000 to develop a watershed management plan for Edinboro Lake.
Trout Unlimited, Chestnut Ridge Chapter – $51,015 to prepare a comprehensive stream corridor assessment of Lower Dunbar Creek.
Greene County Watershed Alliance – $230,964 for natural stream channel design to rectify bank erosion and channel migration on Ruff Creek.
Jefferson County Conservation District – $49,766 for liming of the Manners Dam impoundment and land liming of 250 acres in the Manners Dam Watershed.
Borough of Taylor – $110,645 for design and construction of the Colliery Property Channel Restoration and Culvert.
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy – $25,000 for restoration, protection and habitat enhancement in the Upper Perkiomen Watershed.
Wildlands Conservancy Inc. – $60,000 for the Swabia Creek Stream Restoration Project.
Eastern Middle Anthracite Region Recovery Inc. , $66,000 to construct a passive treatment system to treat a maximum of 500 gallons per minute of flow from Black Creek.
Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation – $450,000 to restore 3,100 feet of stream channel reducing acid mine drainage to Hicks Creek.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. – $200,000 to reclaim 377 acres of abandoned mine land.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. – $13,675 for an annual valley-wide streamside cleanup and buffer planting program.
Black Hole Creek Watershed Association – $10,000 for riparian buffer plantings along 1,400 feet of Black Hole Creek.
Lycoming College – $7,551 for start-up costs for the Rose Valley/Mill Creek Watershed Association.
Narberth Borough – $41,000 for the design of stormwater management retrofits on Indian Creek.
Allegheny County Conservation District – $58,537 to develop a watershed plan for the Big Sewickley Creek Watershed.
American Rivers Inc. – $250,000 for dam removals through the Free-Flowing Pennsylvania II Initiative.
Cocalico Creek Watershed Association – $14,000 to develop a restoration plan for Cocalico Creek.
Columbia County Conservation District – $7,500 to support startup of the newly formed Roaring Creek Valley Conservation Association.
Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation – $150,000 to compile, update and fill in data gaps on minepools in the anthracite region.
Franklin & Marshall College – $200,000 to study statewide streambank erosion and nutrient loads from legacy sediments.
Heritage Conservancy Inc. – $12,000 for the Neshaminy Creek Watershed Alliance implementation.
IPM Institute of North America Inc. – $225,000 to set up a guaranteed best management practice program for farmers.
Lycoming College – $40,000 to support the Keystone Stream Team Web site and stream restoration initiatives.
Lycoming College – $10,000 to support a technical assistance system for watershed groups in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Northampton County Conservation District – $49,642 for a comprehensive assessment and management plan for the Saucon Creek Watershed.
PA Cleanways – $50,000 to cleanup illegal dumpsites in the Mahanoy, Shamokin and Catawissa Watersheds.
Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council – $51,000 for pasture improvements and rotational grazing in the Upper Ohio River Watershed.
Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc. – $200,000 for a nutrient reduction credit trading aggregation project through the PEACCE Network.
Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc. – $300,000 for the PACD Engineering Technical Assistance Program.
Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc. – $1.3 million for the Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – $250,000 for project TreeVitalize, which works to restore tree cover to the Southeastern Pennsylvania area.
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association- $25,000 to update the Riparian Forest Buffer Protection Agreement.
Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council – $400,000 for the Pennsylvania Consortium for Scientific Assistance to Watersheds (C-SAW).
Susquehanna River Basin Commission – $100,000 for a water conservation and efficiency technical assistance program.
Perry County Conservation District – $30,000 for the Riparian Forest Protection Agreement Initiative.
Chestnut Hill College – $80,987 for stream and floodplain restoration design for a mile-long section of Wissahickon Creek.
City of Philadelphia Recreation Department – $200,000 for restoration of Pleasant Hill Park.
Pike County Conservation District – $131,944 for a comprehensive groundwater study.
Snyder County Conservation District – $10,000 for a biological and chemical assessment along the main stem of Penn’s Creek.
Municipal Authority of Boswell Borough – $15,000 to develop a wellhead protection plan protecting water quality in the Mauch Chunk/Burgoon Aquifers.
Shade Creek Watershed Association – $15,000 for limestone sand dosing on acid mine drainage impacted tributaries of Shade Creek.
Somerset County Conservation District – $15,000 to address acidity with limestone sand dosing on Beam and Spruce Runs.
Somerset County Conservation District – $23,500 for operation and maintenance to treatment systems along Stony Creek.
Trout Unlimited, Chestnut Ridge Chapter – $232,901 to develop a water resources plan for the Laurel Hill Creek Watershed.
Hop Bottom Borough , $173,000 for streambank protection on Martin’s Creek.
Susquehanna County Conservation District – $15,000 to restore 2,400 feet of unstable stream channel using natural stream design techniques.
Susquehanna County Conservation District – $10,000 for the Northern Susquehanna River Watershed Association Startup.
Sandycreek Township – $32,800 to conduct a detailed assessment and action plan for the Morrison Run Watershed.
Venango Conservation District – $13,145 for streambank stabilization on Lower Two Mile Run.
Venango Conservation District – $75,000 for streambank stabilization and habitat improvements on Sugar Creek.
United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc. – $241,850 to reclaim a three-acre coal refuse pile that will be converted to baseball fields for the local community.
Washington County Watershed Alliance – $26,822 for natural stream channel design to stabilize a severely eroded section of Cross Creek.
Jacobs Creek Watershed Association – $43,000 for the engineering and design for the Stauffer Run acid mine drainage treatment system.
Pennsylvania State University, York Campus – $140,000 for Phase II of the Codorus Creek Restoration Efficacy Program.
* * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a list by county of the $13.1 million in Growing Greener II watershed protection grants:
Adams County Conservation District – $20,000 to establish a self-guided educational tour of existing and proposed stormwater best management practices.
Nine Mile Run Watershed Association Inc. – $406,439 to install 3,500 rain barrels in the highly urban Nine Mile Run Watershed.
Armstrong Conservation District – $65,325 to address severe impacts from erosion along Plum Creek.
Trout Unlimited, Arrowhead Chapter – $15,000 for streambank stabilization and improved fish habitat on Buffalo Creek.
Bedford County Development Association – $200,000 for stream and floodplain restoration on Shober’s Run.
Berks County Conservancy – $10,000 to implement agricultural best management practices on the Leid Farm.
Berks County Conservancy – $10,000 to establish agricultural best management practices along Saucony Creek, an exceptional value stream.
Berks County Conservancy – $15,000 for the Hix Streambank Restoration and Fencing Project.
Sylvania Borough – $125,000 to stabilize 3,000 feet of eroding streambanks in the headwater areas of Upper Sugar Creek, Upper Tomjack Creek and Upper Brown’s Creek.
Bucks County Chapter of Trout Unlimited – $75,000 for the Cooks Creek Stream Restoration Project.
Beech Creek Watershed Association Inc. – $464,336 for the Contrary Run Mine Area SM-5 Restoration Project.
Centre County Conservation District – $130,000 for installation of agricultural best management practices.
Chester County Conservation District – $12,800 for natural stream channel design and floodplain restoration on Crabby Creek, a tributary to Valley Creek.
Chester County Economic Development Foundation – $150,000 to restore 900 feet of Little Valley Creek.
Whitford Country Club – $400,000 for the Colebrook Creek natural stream channel and riparian ecosystem restoration.
Willistown Township – $69,328 for the Ridley Creek dam removal and riparian restoration.
Crawford County Conservation District – $72,539 for the Crawford County High School Volunteer Streambank Restoration Program.
Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited Inc. – $110,000 for complete survey, design, permitting and removal of two dams on Yellow Breeches Creek.
Pennsylvania Resources Council Inc. – $14,514 for riparian restoration that would protect a one-acre pond from impacts associated with runoff from an adjacent horse pasture.
Villanova University – $69,483 for the study of rain garden best management practices using four different design principals to reduce stormwater runoff.
Indiana County Conservation District – $196,000 to install a non-electric, water-driven limestone silo to treat the Lucerne 3A deep mine discharge.
Indiana County Conservation District – $173,000 to construct a limestone siphon pond to treat the #2 priority mine seep on the South Branch of Bear Run.
Indiana County Conservation District – $27,000 for implementation of agricultural best management practices.
Headwaters Charitable Trust – $140,000 to construct two anaerobic limestone drains to precipitate iron from the Filson #7 site, improving water quality in Little Mill Creek.
Jefferson County Conservation District , $300,000 to address clogging of the Conifer I treatment system on Beaver Run.
Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance – $169,000 to restore and stabilize 3,700 feet of eroding stream channel along the Little Conestoga.
Masonic Village – $413,000 to reconnect 3,200 feet of Conoy Creek to its historical floodplain by removal of legacy sediments and streambank stabilization.
Warwick Township – $65,539 for construction of stormwater best management practices to alleviate sediment pollution to Lititz Run.
Heidelberg Township – $8,950 for creation of a riparian buffer along 375 feet of a tributary to Jordan Creek.
Exeter Borough – $220,593 for Phase I design and construction of the Hicks’s Creek Channel Restoration Project.
Hicks Creek Watershed Association – $246,084 for streambank stabilization along Hick’s Creek at Schooley Avenue.
Montgomery County Conservation District – $103,140 to implement stormwater best management practices on the Yoder Dairy Farm.
Northumberland County Conservation District – $25,000 for implementation of agricultural best management practices on Limestone Run.
Altoona City Authority – $68,000 to design and construct watershed improvements in the Bell’s Gap Run Watershed.
Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc. – $5.2 million for the Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. – $140,000 for the Darby and Cobbs Creek Watershed Stormwater Program.
Fairmont Park Commission – $273,180 to construct a stormwater infiltration gallery along Sequoia Road within the Cathedral Run Watershed.
The Pocono Environmental Education Center – $121,600 for design and construction of stormwater best management practices at the center.
City of Pottsville – $940,000 for Phase V of the Sharp Mountain reclamation project to reclaim dangerous cropfall subsidence in the City of Pottsville.
Somerset County Conservation District – $285,000 to install a lime-silo doser on Coal Run to counteract the acid mine drainage from seeps along the entire watershed.
Babb Creek Watershed Association Inc. – $18,955 for operation, maintenance and repair of the Klondike Successive Alkalinity-Producing System (SAPS).
Endless Mountains Resource Conservation and Development Council – $150,000 Phase II construction of a natural stream channel design project on Corey Creek.
Tioga County Conservation District – $75,000 for implementation of agricultural best management practices.
Buffalo Creek Watershed Alliance – $290,000 for construction of a passive treatment system to address acidic deposition impacts in Buffalo Creek.
Warren County Conservation District – $145,550 for the Small Farm Agricultural Stewardship Program.
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy – $164,650 for design and construction of a self-regulating lime doser to treat the largest acid mine discharge to Tubmill Creek.
Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association – $528,304 for channel restoration on Mehoopany Creek, Problem Areas D & E.
Felton Borough – $197,632 for streambank stabilization and aquatic habitat improvements on the North Branch of Muddy Creek.
* * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a list by county of the $5.9 million in Nonpoint Source Implementation Program Grants, funded through Section 319(h) of the federal Clean Water Act.
Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. – $7,951 to enhance the Pine Creek Watershed Implementation Plan.
Broad Top Township – $8,000 for Six Mile Run acid mine drainage (AMD) evaluation and design to treat the discharge from a deep mine borehole.
Broad Top Township – $86,054 for Six Mile Run AMD remediation to design and construct a passive treatment system to treat AMD along the main stem of Six Mile Run.
Broad Top Township – $23,000 for Sandy Run AMD remediation to design a passive treatment system to treat AMD in the headwaters of Sandy Run.
Broad Top Township – $75,165 for Six Mile Run AMD remediation to construct a passive treatment system to treat AMD in the headwaters of Six Mile Run.
Broad Top Township – $84,970 for Six Mile Run AMD remediation to construct a passive treatment system to treat AMD in the headwaters of Six Mile Run.
Bradford County Conservation District – $99,070 for design and partial implementation of the In-Lake Stephen Foster Lake Restoration Plan.
BUCKS Bucks County Conservation District – $45,000 for a watershed restoration plan for Lake Galena and the North Branch of the Neshaminy Creek.
Clearfield Creek Watershed Association – $77,402 for the Ferris Wheel Revegetation Project to reclaim a 28 acre bare strip mine reducing recharge to a major acid mine discharge seep zone.
Pike Township – $90,061 for the design, permitting and construction of an anoxic limestone drain passive treatment system to treat the BR3.9 acid mine discharge on Bilger Run.
Dauphin County Conservation District – $113,956 to inventory and evaluate conservation plans on file, and cropping system management for Conewago Creek.
Dauphin County Conservation District – $77,000 for design and construction of a vertical flow pond, aerobic wetlands and sedimentation basins to treat alkaline discharges in the Bear Creek Watershed.
Erie County Conservation District – $15,680 for the Trout Run Assessment and Implementation Plan.
Huntingdon County Conservation District – $336,898 to design and construct the Green Garden Road AMD Treatment System.
Lackawanna County Conservation District – $12,000 for development of a watershed plan to remove Wilson Creek from the 303(d) list.
Mifflin County Conservation District – $322,814 to implement agricultural best management practices in the Upper Kishacoquillas Creek Watershed.
Antietam Watershed Association – $75,000 to develop a comprehensive watershed assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load implementation plan.
Cumberland County Conservation District – $7,222 for development of the Middle Spring Watershed Implementation Plan.
Jacobs Creek Watershed Association – $35,000 for the Jacobs Creek Watershed Implementation Plan.
League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund – $100,000 for pollution prevention watershed education.
Luzerne Conservation District – $125,000 to support technical assistance and educational opportunities for conservation districts and watershed groups dealing with acid mine drainage.
Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. – $175,000 to support county conservation district educational activities related to reducing nonpoint source pollution.
Tri-County Conewago Creek Association – $34,000 for Phase I of the Hershey Meadows Stream Restoration Project.
Venango Conservation District – $45,011 for a watershed assessment and restoration plan for South Sandy Creek Watershed in Venango and Mercer counties.
Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation – $125,000 to support technical assistance and educational opportunities for conservation districts and watershed groups dealing with acid mine drainage.
Schuylkill County Conservation District – $956,000 for the Oneida #3 Mine Tunnel Discharge Remediation Project.
Schuylkill Headwaters Association Inc. – $690,000 for installation of a passive acid mine drainage treatment system to neutralize acidity and reduce metals from the Neumeister Drift discharge in the Schuylkill River Watershed.
Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee Inc. – $12,000 to develop an implementation plan for Fall Brook.
Union County Conservation District – $18,229 for a part-time agricultural information specialist to work with farmers on agricultural impaired reaches of Buffalo Creek.
Izaak Walton League of America Inc., York Chapter 67 – $687,861 for Phase III, Stage IV restoration of the Godfrey Pasture to eliminate excessive sediment loading and improve fishery habitat.
Izaak Walton League of America Inc., York Chapter 67 – $722,672 for Phase V of the South Branch Codorus Creek Stream Restoration Project.
Izaak Walton League of America Inc., York Chapter 67 – $356,888 for restoration of the McClelland Pasture to eliminate excessive sediment loading and improve fishery habitat.
Izaak Walton League of America Inc., York Chapter 67 – $297,958 for Phase V of the East Branch Codorus Creek Stream Restoration Project. [b][/b] 2 1288 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 25-26-1-37-31-30-33-32-23-19- 0
Edit Edit Edit Inline Edit Copy Copy Delete Delete 202 Inaugural COALS strategy session set for Nov. 29 2006-11-13 17:02:42 By MARK E. JONES Times Leader email@example.com
People aiming to remove illegal trash dumps from Luzerne County and the surrounding anthracite region will gather for a strategy session later this month in Nanticoke.
The first COALS Summit is scheduled for Nov. 29 at Luzerne County Community College.
Event organizers with the state Department of Environmental Protection intend to spread information to community groups about a young but fast-growing program called COALS, short for Clean Our Anthracite Lands and Streams.
The program began about two years ago in Northumberland and Columbia counties and expanded earlier this year into Luzerne County. It relies on the combined efforts of community volunteers, government agencies, environmental groups and private landowners, especially the region’s coal companies.
Donors pay for waste disposal costs. Other COALS participants provide free labor or chip in with enforcement and site beautification efforts.
The summit’s speakers will include representatives from groups such as the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, PA CleanWays and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.
Attendees also will learn about a COALS high school grant program during an afternoon presentation titled “Money is on the Table!”
Registration costs $15; the fee includes admission to the daylong program and a lunch. The registration deadline is Nov. 25.
To attend the summit, call Angela Vitkoski of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s northeast regional office at (570) 718-6507. Or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. 0 545 12 admin 1 english
You are invited to attend the annual state conference of the
Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators
April 13-15, 2007
Brochure, Registration Form, Updates, & Early Bird Discounts at www.paee.net
Internationally-renown speaker: Tim Grant of Green Teacher
Regional & state speakers: Robert Hughes & Patti Vathis
32 Workshops, Networking opportunities, 5 Field Studies
including a field study by Rick Koval of PA Outdoor Life.
Act 48 & IU credits, too!
Sampling of workshops:
Teaching Sound Science Using Our Natural World
PLT’s Risk and the Environment
EE on a Shoestring for Educators
Teaching Green in the Middle Years
Taking Kids “A Field”: Field Ecology for Elementary Students
Finding That “Magic Spot” Moment: Nature Journaling
Strategies for Teaching IPM Indoors and Outdoors
Teaching the Greatest Challenge of Them All: Climate Change
Ripples , Harvesting Poems in Nature
Learning Basic Science Concepts in the Schoolyard
Questions? Contact either conference co-chair
Judith at email@example.com
“The Pennsylvania Association for Environmental Educators unites, supports, and inspires individuals to be stewards of the environment”. 0 625
199 Coal Mine Drainage Treatment Inventoried Online 2006-10-30 12:34:28
October 18, 2006 Contact: Ben Owens
For immediate release (202) 208-2565
Coal Mine Drainage Treatment Inventoried Online for
Abandoned Mines in Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania
Information about restoring streams contaminated by waste from abandoned coal mines in four Appalachian states has been compiled in an online inventory by the US Office of Surface Mining (OSM).
The inventory provides vital statistics on about 300 Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) treatment projects in West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is available online at http://amd.osmre.gov/passtreat/.
Either by using the simple queries included in the web site or by downloading the complete data base, users can identify: all the treatment projects in a watershed, county or state; where they are located; the source of the AMD; the treatment technology used; the total cost of the project; the primary funding partners and their contribution; and some basic water quality information.
Anyone wanting to know how well a specific treatment technology is working will be able to search the inventory database for projects of interest. The inventory can be queried using several basic questions and the database can be downloaded for independent analysis and GIS mapping.
Information available in the inventory will enable better decision-making on where to place new treatment systems, what technologies will work best on individual discharges, what systems are performing well and which ones need attention.
Thousands of miles of steams in the Appalachian Region have been contaminated by drainage from abandoned underground and surface coal mines. In some areas, acid mine drainage (AMD) is the largest single source of water quality impairment. In the past 12 to 15 years there has been a tremendous growth in efforts to address the discharges, reflecting a strong commitment among Federal and State agencies, universities, foundations and local watershed groups.
OSM and its state partners identified a collective need to know the extent of efforts being made to clean up streams and watersheds impacted by mine drainage. However, due to the large number of organizations involved in constructing and maintaining treatment systems, no one agency maintained an inventory of all the projects in a state or even a watershed.
As the federal agency most involved in funding AMD treatment and providing technical assistance, OSM took a leadership role in developing the inventory with significant help from state partners.
The inventory identifies treatment systems built to address mine drainage from mines abandoned before implementation of the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
Most of the projects included in the inventory use a variation of what is called “passive” treatment technology. Passive treatment systems use wetlands or limestone-based alkalinity-producing technologies to treat contaminated mine water. Passive treatment systems usually (but not always) require less intensive monitoring and less frequent maintenance than the typical chemical addition systems associated with regulated coal mines.
The AML/AMD Treatment Inventory can be accessed at http://amd.osmre.gov/passtreat The web site contains individual state contacts in OSM for questions, updates and comments.
198 Live News from EPCAMR on your Desktop 2006-10-26 12:24:27
EPCAMR is proud to announce a new web service…EPCAMR NewsFlash via RSS. This previously under-utilized service has been gaining more popularity and can be a very useful tool to keep you updated in the day-to-day happenings of the EPCAMR and AMD/AML Related News. The technology that allows transmission directly to your computer is known as RSS or Really Simple Syndication. If you have Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox Internet Browsers (others may also apply), you will notice an orange icon in the address bar. This is the link to the news feed, click on it and follow the instructions to add the link to your browser.
The feed is available here.
The EPCAMR RSS Reader is adapted from the RSS Reader from www.rssreader.com and is ad ware free. The program runs under Windows 98/NT/Me/2000/XP/2003 Operating Systems.
197 Bradford County Commissioners seek fund-extension for environmental clean-ups 2006-10-20 11:27:10
Commissioners hire assistant 911 coordinator, seek fund-extension for environmental clean-ups
BY JAMES LOEWENSTEIN
TOWANDA — The Bradford County commissioners on Thursday hired a new full-time assistant 911 coordinator and passed a resolution urging Congress to re-authorize a federal fund that has helped address local environmental problems caused by past coal mining.[b]Asst. 911 coordinator[/b]
The commissioners on Thursday hired Robert Repasky of Sayre to be the county’s full-time assistant 911 coordinator.
Repasky replaces Kim Jennings, who was promoted to Bradford County 911 coordinator earlier this month, Bradford County Commissioner Nancy Schrader said.
Repasky is an assistant fire chief for Sayre and is president of the Bradford County Fire Chiefs Association. Repasky is also a Pennsylvania state fire instructor.
For the past three years, Repasky has served as chairman of Bradford County’s 911 Committee, which oversees the operations and budget for 911 in Bradford County.
“We’re very glad that he (Repasky) has accepted the position,” Schrader said. “He comes with a great deal of experience, and he comes with a great deal of expertise.”
Repasky’s salary will be $27,372, and his hire was made effective Oct. 16, 2006.[b]Environmental problems[/b]
By a 2-0 vote, the Bradford County commissioners approved a resolution urging Congress to reauthorize the federal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund. The fund is set to expire in June 2007.
The fund provides money to address environmental problems caused by past coal mining, as well as safety hazards related to the mines, according to written information provided by the commissioners.
“Bradford County suffers from abandoned mine land problems,” Josh First, representing a coalition of environmental conservation groups, told the commissioners. “You won’t get those problems taken care of unless you get more money.”
Among the problems Bradford County faces from past coal mining are dangerous mine openings, waste piles from past coal mining operations, and acidic streams, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In the late 1990s, $1.2 million from the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation fund was used to pay for two water treatment projects that reduced the acidity of two tributaries to the Schrader Creek, making it a better environment for trout, said Hugh McMahon, president of the Schrader Creek Watershed Association. The tributaries, located on Barclay Mountain, had been made acidic by past coal mining, McMahon said.
Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko — who, along with Commissioner Nancy Schrader voted for the resolution — said that trout fishing is important part of the appeal of Bradford County to tourists.
The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund is a funded by a tax paid by coal mining companies, ranging from 10 cents per ton mined to 35 cents per ton mined.
The resolution, which has been also been passed by more than 40 other counties in Pennsylvania, urges that the per-ton tax be increased by 10 cents per ton.
The tax has not been increased in 35 years, even though the price of coal has increased since then from $4 or $5 per ton to $110 per ton, First said.
The resolution asks Congress to extend the fund for at least 20 more years.
Bradford County Commissioner Janet Lewis was absent from Thursday’s meeting.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
©Daily and Sunday Review 2006
196 New England Organics Fertilizer Pellets Available for Land Reclamation 2006-10-16 12:13:13
On July 1, 2006 the PADEP granted New England Organics (NEO) coverage under General Permit PAG-07 for their Class A biosolids pellets produced by the New England Fertilizer Company. This approval can be found at the PADEP website, specifically at:
EPCAMR is assisting with putting the word out on the product to interested groups and has been provided material information sheets on the biosolid pellets and the Biomix Topsoil products. Please see the attached information .
NEO has demonstrated tremendous success with this product throughout New England in the areas of turf production, conventional ag production and as a component in manufactured topsoil for landfill closure work. Additionally, we have documented field research with the University of Rhode Island. Also, using the pellets as a soil amendment in topsoil manufacturing operations can add value and marketability to otherwise low organic, poor quality subsoils.
NEO is planning to market its fertilizer in Eastern Pennsylvania and is looking for some strong and experienced companies that can use the fertilizer product in various mineland reclamation projects. Any interested watershed groups or Conservation Districts, as well as mining operators that are interested in obtaining this product should contact Pat Kennedy, NEO at 1-800-278-7396.
195 The ACCWT is award-winning, again 2006-10-16 11:03:15
The Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team just won the [b]Governmental Partner Award[/b] at the first-ever [b]National Summit of Mining Communities[/b]. The Summit was a meeting of a combination of community and mining interests and was held in Leadville, CO. October 3-5, 2006. Attendees at the Summit were asked to nominate recipients for six awards, including the Governmental Partner Award – for “A federal, state, or local agency that was receptive to a mining community’s voice and needs and stepped up to the plate to take a proactive role in their economic vitality, local safety and health, and environmental management.”
Allan Comp was in Leadville last week to accept the award on behalf of our entire team and also served as co-keynote opening speaker with Mr. Wayne Mundy, CEO, Newmont Mining Co.
For more information regarding the Summit, please visit http://www.2tough2die.com/.
We are tremendously excited by this award (the second awarded our Team!) and you should be too – all of our efforts are honored by this recognition. It takes a Team folks and each of you have made this organization the success it has become. Considering all of the attention the Team is getting, we know that we are at the precipice of positive change – within our collective as the Watershed Team as well as in communities throughout Appalachia. We know that things have been very busy as we prepare us for the evolution of our network and greatly appreciate your continued efforts and patience. We have some very exciting things coming down the pike and look forward to the coming years as we amp up our efforts and their reach.
Keep up the great work and take just a moment to revel in the glory of YOUR success!
Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team
Program Manager/Team Leader
198 George Street
Beckley, WV 25801
194 EPCAMR President Wins International Conservation Award 2006-10-16 10:23:48[b]Pennsylvania Middle School Teacher Wins International Conservation Award
52nd Annual Chevron Conservation Awards Honors Dauphin County’s Ed Wytovich for Environmental Protection Efforts of the State’s Rivers and Habitat[/b] [b]SAN RAMON, Calif., October 6, 2006[/b] , Ed Wytovich is a student of nature. For his legendary volunteer efforts, which have led to the preservation of hundreds of miles of rivers and thousands of acres of habitat in Pennsylvania, Wytovich was named one of six winners of the 52nd annual Chevron Conservation Awards.
US Congressman Tim Holden wrote that Wytovich demonstrates “how optimism can build partnerships with government, the private sector, and community volunteers to achieve success in conserving and restoring our environment.”
An eighth grade science teacher in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Wytovich has been a founding member of a myriad of watershed associations dedicated to treating Abandoned Mine Drainage. This year, Wytovich, who serves as volunteer president of the Eastern Pennsylvania Collation for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, celebrated the completion of the largest water lands restoration project in the state.
In 1998, his 100 mile “Riverwalk” along the state’s Schuylkill River raised funds for the Schuylkill Headwaters Association and generated awareness of the need to clean the River. He also helped start the Annual Schuykill River Sojourn, a one-week canoe trip down the Schuykill, to draw attention to habitat preservation.
In 2001, he convinced state lawmakers to designate May as Statewide Watershed Awareness Month, which lead to annual clean-ups at sites throughout Pennsylvania. “Ed instills within others the need to serve as stewards of the environment and community within which they live,” said Dave Zanis, a longtime friend.
Other 2006 Chevron Conservation Award winner are: California Trout, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring wild trout and steelhead waters throughout California; The late William H. Howard, president, Wildlife Habitat Council for his innovative approach to pairing industry and conservationists to find balanced solutions to natural resource protection; Iain Kerr, CEO, Ocean Alliance, for research and educational efforts to improve the health of the world’s oceans; Jeunesse Park, founder of Food and Trees for Africa, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged South Africans through natural resource programs; Dr. Pilai Poonswad, for her work to save Asian hornbills and habitat in the forests of Thailand.
Winners are selected by an independent panel of conservationists. Originally created by outdoors writer Ed Zern in 1954, the program has recognized more than 1,000 conservationists from around the world. A contribution of $15,000 is made by Chevron to each winner’s conservation work.
Chevron is committed to contributing to the social and economic development of the communities in which the company operates. In 2005, Chevron invested $73 million in community initiatives around the world, nearly 65 percent of which was directed toward long-term, capacity-building projects.
Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading energy companies. With more than 53,000 employees, Chevron subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries around the world, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas, and refining, marketing and distributing fuels and other energy products. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information on Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.
For more information on the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, see http://www.orangewaternetwork.org.
Contact: Alex Yelland, Chevron media relations — + 1 925 842 0456
1 1425 1 Note from Ed: “Its a small world” , the fellow who accepted for California Trout and is the Executive director of Ca Trout is one Brian Stranko, originally from Selingsgrove. One of the fellows who accepted on behalf of another group is friends with Alan Comp. Ya can’t hide anywhere!
193 Eastern Coal Region Roundtable Creek Clips 2006-10-03 13:06:50
Issues, Support, Celebration
Abandoned Mine Land Update
Mine cleanup could be linked to inheritance tax
As the 109th Congress approaches its election recess in Washington this week, the Senate’s Republican leadership could attach the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund reauthorization bill, sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum, to legislation that would eliminate the estate tax, a controversial proposal in this election year and a strategy that could jeopardize passage of the mining fund bill.
Kristen Vanderpool, a spokeswoman for Mr. Santorum, said the senator remains committed to passage of the bill by whatever means is most viable, and this month sent a letter urging its passage to Republican and Democratic Senate leaders. It was signed by 21 other senators from both parties.
“We feel there were certain compromises made on the lower fees and re-mining but it was worth it because the bill will finally provide Pennsylvania with enough funding to fix the worst of the abandoned sites,” said Beverly Braverman, executive director of the Mountain Watershed Association in Fayette County, and chair of the Tri-State Citizens Mining Network’s Center for Coalfield Justice.
Read the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article here.
Please check our online calendar periodically to keep updated on useful trainings & conferences throughout Coal Country.
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Visit our website: www.easterncoal.org
ECRR provides a helping hand to grassroots environmental groups striving to solve water quality issues throughout Appalachia’s Coal Country.
Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable
119 S. Price Street, Suite 206, Kingwood, WV 26537
Phone: 304.329.8049 – Fax: 304.329.3622 – Email: email@example.com
192 EPCAMR Outreach Coordinator Interviewed by PA Environmental Digest 2006-10-03 12:29:23
Source PA Environmental Digest
|Michael Hewitt from the Eastern Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation tells how he first got interested in doing watershed restoration work.PA Environmental Digest caught up to Mr. Hewitt at the “From the Branches to the Confluence” Upper Susquehanna River Conference at Bucknell University September 23, 2006.
You can contact him by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.OrangeWaterNetwork.org
191 Avondale Memorial and Community Garden Complete 2006-10-03 11:11:04
Over the last nine months more than 30 volunteers have transformed mine-scarred land, an abandoned bridge abutment and an invasive weedy hillside into an industrial art project honoring the largest anthracite mining disaster in Avondale in Northeastern Pa.
And on September 17, the volunteers celebrated the successful project with a Community Picnic and Cook-out.
Part of the project includes a community flower garden that incorporates a stormwater management practice using a rain barrel to recycle water for the plants. The garden project just received a $250 grant from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to support garden development.
Throughout the summer, volunteers worked 700 hours and gathered more than $10,000 of donated materials and time for the perennial garden and industrial art project which is dedicated to the 110 victims of the 1869 Avondale mine fire.
During construction, Robert Hughes, Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and a resident of Avondale Hill, secured a donation of and installed a 100-foot long silt fence to prevent dirt from eroding off the hillside with Mike Hewitt, a co-worker from Plymouth.
A small grant from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Resources Council, plus some donations of flowers from local nurseries, helped to populate the garden.
Valerie Taylor, EPCAMR Office of Surface Mining VISTA, from the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team, coordinated all of the volunteer work days and her enthusiasm for the project spread through many of the volunteers throughout the course of the project.
At the base of the abutment, Heather Elias planted a wildly colorful garden. Dawson and Hayley Hughes scrubbed the graffiti off of the boulders and the abutment to bring back the rock’s true colors. Tom and Mike Loke built the surrounding rock wall and cut the weeds and invasive plants out of the hillside to make way for the garden.
Ed and Diane, a couple that lives directly across the street from the project, watered the garden during its initial landscaping to keep it alive, and have assisted with planting the garden and pulling weeds as well.
Karen Gabriel, a new homeowner on Avondale Hill, shoveled dirt to create the flower bed during the heat of the Summer. Many other silent volunteers and businesses have contributed quietly with their contributions and work ethic to the project and were just glad to help in any way possible.
Volunteers arranged long-term garden care with the addition of a rain barrel donated by the Luzerne Conservation District. From the roof of the kiosk housing a public community bulletin board, built by Rick Shields and his grandson, Patrick Shields, water collects and will nourish the garden during dry times. A seep hose distributes the water throughout the planted area.
For more information, please contact the EPCAMR office at 570-674-7993 or send email to Robert Hughes at: email@example.com. 0 772 1 1 0 0
190 EPA Administrator to Lead Cooperative Conservation Listening Session in Pottstow 2006-09-14 13:12:14 On September 18, 2006, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson will lead a cooperative conservation listening session in Pottstown, PA. The session is intended to give citizens an opportunity to exchange ideas on incentives, partnership programs, and regulations that can improve results and promote cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships. The listening session is the latest in a series of discussions that the Bush Administration has hosted since the President’s Conference on Cooperative Conservation in August 2005. Groups and individuals involved in cooperative efforts to protect the environment are encouraged to participate in this session.
Date and Time: September 18, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.
Location: Montgomery County Community College – Community Room, 101 College Dr., Pottstown, Pennsylvania 19464
How can the federal government enhance wildlife habitat, species protection, and other conservation outcomes through regulatory and voluntary conservation programs?
How can the federal government enhance cooperation among federal agencies and with states, tribes, and local communities in the application of environmental protection and conservation laws?
How can the federal government work with states, tribes, and other
public- and private-sector partners to improve science used in environmental protection and conservation?
How can the federal government work cooperatively with businesses and landowners to protect the environment and promote conservation?
How can the federal government better respect the interests of people with ownership in land, water, and other natural resources?
Contact: Gail Tindal at 215-814-2069 or firstname.lastname@example.org
189 Coal mine cleanup plan tempts Democratic opponents of tax cut 2006-08-22 14:27:08
By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer , The Associated Press
Republicans are trying to boost their bid to cut estate taxes and increase the minimum wage with a last-minute add-on that would pay for abandoned coal mine cleanup projects and health care for retired miners.
A coalition of labor, environmentalists and mining companies is behind the drive to renew the mine reclamation program, which uses fees on mined coal to pay for cleanup projects and health care for retired mine workers and their families.
The mining provision has been added to the estate tax and minimum wage bill to try to entice West Virginia Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller to abandon a Democratic filibuster on the estate tax measure. It’s also important to the re-election bid of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the provision’s top sponsor.
Republican leaders still face an uphill battle to cut the estate tax, despite add-ons such as the mine cleanup provision, the minimum wage hike and a package of popular tax breaks that includes a research and development credit for businesses and deductions for college tuition and state sales taxes. A Friday vote looms on whether to cut off the Democrats’ stalling tactics.
Byrd is feeling the most heat among Democrats since he’s running for re-election in a state where the politics of coal remain king. He has not announced whether he’ll abandon his opposition to the estate tax cut measure now that the coal mine cleanup and retiree health coverage _ as well as the long-sought increase in the minimum wage _ has been attached.
“It is critically important that this get passed,” said Phil Smith, spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America.
Rockefeller, meanwhile, said he’ll vote against the hybrid estate tax and minimum wage bill, but he did not give a reason during a brief interview.
West Virginia would be a big winner under the abandoned mine legislation, which renews a law first passed in 1977. The state has a large backlog of abandoned mine sites requiring cleanup and it has the most so-called “orphan miners” in the country.
Orphan miners are retired coal workers whose former employer has gone out of business. They tend to be poor and are concentrated in Appalachia. Many beneficiaries are elderly widows of miners.
At the same time, the legislation directs more assistance to states with big cleanup problems such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“This is huge for reclaiming mines and streams in coal country in the eastern part of the country,” Santorum said. “As well as taking care of a problem that is hanging over us like a black cloud, and that is, what can we do with orphan miner benefits.”
Western states such as Wyoming _ where most strip mines sites have already been remediated _ would also reap a windfall, getting paid surplus coal taxes that have piled up in the $1.4 billion federal cleanup fund. States don”t have to use the money to clean up mine sites. Wyoming, for instance, has spent some of its share on highways, schools and hospitals.
The mining bill has generated opposition from fiscal hawks such as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who says taxpayers would bear too much of the program’s cost. Gregg also says the legislation unwisely puts the program on autopilot instead of renewing its budget each year so Congress can better review it.
But Gregg has muted his criticism now that the mining measure has been linked to the estate tax cut, a top priority for Republicans and party allies such as small businesses and farmers.
The mining provision is one of several aimed at attracting the votes of wavering Democrats. A provision to authorize rural bonds targets Mark Pryor, D-Ark., while a tax break for timber companies is aimed at Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
“They knew what they were doing,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., of the GOP authors of the overall bill. “They loaded up the estate tax bill with as many state specific, industry specific projects as they could.”
Still, Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was confident Democrats will block the estate tax measure. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to cut off a filibuster, and Republicans fell three votes short in a previous attempt in June.
On the Net:
United Mine Workers of America: http://www.umwa.org/
Director of Communications
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture)
412-258-6683 (direct dial)
188 Schuylkill Watershed Congress Call for Presenters 2006-08-22 14:04:49
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network announces
the Call for Presenters (Concurrent and Poster Sessions)
for the 2007 Schuylkill Watershed Congress
Saturday, March 3rd, with Field Trips March 4th
Montgomery County Community College – West Campus, Pottstown, PA
Submissions due by [u]October 28th, 2006[/u]. Download the Call for Proposals Document
The Schuylkill Watershed Congress Organizers invite you to share your
knowledge with a presentation or poster session. Congress participants
are interested in the latest information on progressive watershed
planning, model projects, and innovative watershed protection.
Topics requested by participants include:
“State of the Schuylkill Watershed” updates “¢ Plant ID “¢ Nutrient tracking “¢ Monitoring for beginners “¢ Dam removal “¢ Invasive species management “¢ Fundraising and grant writing “¢ Volunteer development “¢ Fish populations in the watershed “¢ Wetland restoration “¢ Biological monitoring “¢ Innovative community outreach “¢ Stream re-designation “¢ Legacy sediment “¢ Waterborne disease “¢ Rivers Conservation “¢ TMDLs “¢ Data on/reporting on benefits of retrofits/restoration “¢ Stormwater BMP retrofits “¢ Endocrine disruptors “¢ Watershed education “¢ Role of municipalities in watershed protection “¢ GIS in conservation “¢ Stream ecology primer “¢ Wastewater recycling “¢ Plant stewardship “¢ Sojourn/recreational opportunities in the Schuylkill and Delaware watersheds “¢ Terrestrial/aquatic relationships “¢ Source water protection “¢ Stream clean-ups
Field trips and hands-on, interactive presentations are encouraged.
All presentations must include a question and answer component.
Poster and concurrent sessions proposals should include:
* Presentation Title (please limit to 10 words)
* Presenter(s), Affiliation(s), Address(es)
* Email Address(es)
* Daytime Telephone Number(s)
* One Sentence Presentation Summary
* Level (e.g., Introductory, Intermediate, Advanced; Advanced sessions are encouraged)
* Abstract Body (should not exceed 200 words)
* Estimated Length of Presentation (Concurrent sessions limited to 50 minutes)
* Presenter Bio(s) (should not exceed 100 words)
* Specify concurrent session or poster session
Submit presentation proposals or questions about the Schuylkill
Watershed Congress via email to email@example.com
Please note: Submission of a proposal does not guarantee inclusion in the Congress program. The number of proposals received often exceeds the session availability. Following the proposal format provided will greatly aid the Congress Program Committee in the tough decision-making process. If you have any questions, please call 610-469-6005.
The Schuylkill Watershed Congress, a gathering of watershed citizens interested in understanding, protecting and restoring their local streams, is held annually on the first Saturday in March. The event features a diverse program with concurrent and poster sessions covering a broad range of watershed topics. The Congress audience, which has hailed from throughout the Schuylkill Watershed, across Pennsylvania and from as far away as Wilmington, Delaware; Ringoes, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; and Providence, Rhode Island, attends the Congress seeking new information on watershed protection.
Sea Grant of Pennsylvaina
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
300 Pond Street, 2nd Floor
Bristol, PA 19007
Web site: www.delawareriverkeeper.org
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is the only advocacy organization working throughout the entire Delaware River Watershed. The Delaware Riverkeeper is an individual who is the voice of the River, championing the rights of the River and its streams as members of our community. The Delaware Riverkeeper is assisted by seasoned professionals and a network of members, volunteers and supporters. Together they form DRN, and together they stand as vigilant protectors and defenders of the River, its tributaries and watershed. DRN is committed to restoring the watershed’s natural balance where it has been lost and ensuring its preservation where it still exists.
187 No longer dead in the water 2006-07-28 12:03:00
Source: Ad Crable – Lancaster New Era
Published: Jul 26, 2006 12:22 PM EST
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – Maryruth Wagner, manager of the Columbia County Conservation District, was sitting in her office nine years ago when a 70-something-year-old man shuffled in.
Paul Slusser said he’d fished Catawissa Creek all his life but had never caught a single fish. He sure would like to.
Now, if you weren’t from the area and stumbled across the Catawissa anywhere along its 42-mile journey from its mountainous headwaters in Luzerne County to its mouth on the Susquehanna in Columbia County, you’d die for a fly rod.
The “Cat,” as it’s called, is up to 50 feet wide and clear as gin. It tumbles swiftly over rocks and through arching hemlocks and bowed rhododendrons. A pristine trout stream if there ever was one.
Except that since the 1930s, when the coal mines that burrowed deep under its course closed, the Catawissa has been barren of fish and all but a few of the most acid-tolerant aquatic insects.
In a few places the stream disappears briefly down mine shafts.
“The Catawissa is probably the most beautiful screwed-up stream east of the Mississippi,” says Ed Wytovich, president of the grass-roots Catawissa Creek Restoration Association.
Acid mine drainage from a handful of abandoned coal mines had given the Catawissa a pH as low as 3.2 , about the acidity of stomach acid or wine.
“It looks like a clear, beautiful mountain stream. But it’s dead , nothing,” says Lonnie Young, director of natural sciences for Rettew Associates, a Lancaster-based consulting firm.
The stream is just one of 2,500 miles of waterways in 45 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties tainted by acid mine drainage.
The state Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation handles about 800 requests a year for help with mine-polluted streams.
The Catawissa doesn’t have the iron-rich “yellowboy” discoloring of many acid mine drainage-contaminated streams, which makes it all the more pitiful to learn that the clear water is deadly.
Slusser touched something in Wagner that day in 1997. She called up the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, state Department of Environmental Protection, county commissioners, conservation districts, federal conservation agencies and Wytovich, a schoolteacher from Ashland with a bent for environmental issues.
Somehow she got them all together one night in the Ringtown Fire Hall. Some 150 local residents turned out, many of whom lived along the Catawissa.
The willingness and earnestness charged those who were there. One thing led to another and before long the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association had formed.
The group’s first effort to reverse things came in 1999 when a dump truck load of limestone was deposited on the Brandonville Bridge and everyone shoveled scoops into the water below.
“It was a Band-Aid approach but you could see it dissipated into the water,” recalls Wagner. “We monitored it and the pH came up a little bit close to that area.”
Things picked up steam, and before you knew it, it was June 17, 2006, and the dedication of the Audenreid Tunnel Acid Mine Drainage Treatment System.
The $2.2 million facility, mostly maintenance-free, is the largest passive acid mine drainage facility ever built in Pennsylvania, and possibly the world.
The project’s engineering, permitting and final design were done by Rettew at its Columbia Avenue headquarters.
Alongside the Catawissa and wedged between mountains in northern Schuylkill County, the nine-acre complex was built 6 miles below the stream’s headwaters.
In a move that typifies the cooperation the project has generated from the beginning, land and access were donated by a local rod and gun club and a private all-terrain vehicle park.
The filtering system, which handles about 13 million gallons of creek water per day, works this way:
First, acid mine drainage from three long-abandoned deep coal mines is intercepted and diverted into three partially buried concrete storage tanks of the kind used on Lancaster County dairy farms to hold manure. Each is 120 feet in diameter, 10 feet deep and holds up to 1 million gallons.
About half the space inside the open-air tanks is made up of egg-sized limestone rocks. The limestone oxidizes the aluminum in the water, and the toxic heavy metal separates, settling into the rocks.
From there, the treated and cleansed water flows over rocky spillways , more aluminum oxides are separated out , into a series of two earthen settling ponds. Any aluminum still waterborne settles out here, and the recharged water flows into the Catawissa.
It’s like giving the Catawissa a strong antacid tablet.
The water in the settling ponds is a most alluring blue. Think Caribbean. It’s caused by the sky reflected in the shiny aluminum.
“It looks like you were at the beach,” says Wagner. “We joked about putting sand and umbrellas around the blue ponds.”
The system went on line in December. Unfortunately, the facility took a hit during the severe flooding several weeks ago. The side of the mountain where the mine water is discharged was blown out and the treatment system was flooded with 10 times its capacity.
But officials are hopeful they can have the system up and running again in a matter of weeks.
The treatment system takes care of about 80 percent of the acid mine drainage emptying into the Catawissa. Another upstream mine is already being treated, and plans are to cleanse several others.
Says Wagner, “I’ve lived here my whole life, and it just makes you feel so good that finally something can be done. We take pride in our waters.”
Those who love the Catawissa and public officials in the region are already dreaming of what might be.
Before it was knocked out by flooding, the treatment had raised the pH of the Catawissa to a more fish-tolerable 5.5 or 6. There are 16 streams that empty into the Catawissa that hold native brook trout ready to move into new territory.
When Wytovich gives presentations, his display board on the Catawissa has this motto: “Soon to be a world-class trout stream.”
Indeed, though Paul Slusser did not live to see it, at the dedication an elderly couple told the gathering they had gone out on opening day of trout season and caught four native brook trout.
They were the first fish the pair had ever seen in the stream.
They said the fish were good eating, too.
186 Abandoned Mine Fund supported by Wyoming County 2006-07-26 17:06:32
Source: JOSH MROZINSKI,
Wyoming County Press Examiner
WYOMING COUNTY – County Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to support the Abandoned Mine Land Fund.
The U.S. Senate is debating a bill that would reauthorize the federal funding, giving the state about $65 million to restore abandoned mines through 2026.
The commissioners were urged to support the federal land mine program by Josh First, Harrisburg-based Appalachian Land and Conservation Services Co. president.
“So far we have had 31 counties pass resolutions to reauthorize the fund,” First said.
Luzerne is one of the counties that have passed a supporting resolution, First said after the meeting.
Lackawanna County Commissioners have yet to give their support.
First said Wyoming County has had fewer problems with abandoned mines than other counties, and the problems that have been addressed have been minor.
But he still said the federal program would benefit Wyoming County.
Rusty Bennett, 45, of Forkston and vice president of the Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association, said the federal funding would allow the organization to expand its program, during which lime is placed in creeks, including the Stony Brook.
The creek runs at the foot of the Dutch Mountain, which is located in Forkston Twp. and has an abandoned mine.
Mike Hewitt, who during the meeting presented data about the county’s mines, said that acidic run-off flows from the mine at 200 to 300 gallons a minute.
Mr. Hewitt is the watershed outreach coordinator for the Shavertown-based Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
Commissioner Tony Litwin asked whether strip mining was used at the mountain.
“These are all underground mines,” Hewitt said.
He added that the four holes were made into the mountain side to reach the coal.
Commissioner Judy Kraft Mead, who made the motion to create a resolution in support of the fund, asked whether the federal program has been used to pay the pension of unionized mine workers.
First answered yes.
185 AML Bill could include dollars for Wyoming 2006-07-26 16:28:10
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Source: NOELLE STRAUB
Star-Tribune Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — A $5 billion provision moving quickly through Congress would increase payments to Wyoming from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund while at the same time lowering the fees charged to coal companies to finance it, winning praise from some Western senators.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is working to attach a measure that would reauthorize the AML program for 15 years to the final version of a pension reform bill that is being hammered out between House and Senate negotiators. The Santorum proposal originally contained measures that could have cost Western states, but was changed after Western senators complained.
The pension conference report has not yet been finalized, but negotiators hope to pass it through Congress by the end of the week. But some conservatives have objected to the Santorum measure, saying it is too expensive. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who chairs the Budget Committee, sent a scathing letter to colleagues urging them to fight it.
Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., is chairing the pension conference committee.
“Wyoming has been shortchanged for decades to the tune of a half a billion dollars, with no end in sight,” Enzi said. “This provision I am working on with my colleagues from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states is the end of a problem and the beginning of a fair policy that makes sure people get what they are owed.”
Enzi said the measure would release over a seven-year period the $550 million that Wyoming is owed.
“This pension conference is a good opportunity, but we still have a mountain to climb,” Enzi said. “It’s not a done deal. This proposal would give Wyoming the money it’s owed and correctly balance the formula for the future so we get the money going forward. It also reduces the burden on companies working in Wyoming.”
But Gregg sent a letter to his colleagues Tuesday against the proposal. He said beneficiaries would become more reliant on American taxpayer contributions rather than the coal companies.
Gregg said the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that AML legislation increases direct spending by $4.9 billion over 10 years, but only increases revenues by $1 billion over that same time period, increasing the deficit by nearly $4 billion.
He also said the proposal changes annual AML funding from discretionary to mandatory spending, making it an automatic funding stream that cannot be controlled through annual spending review and appropriations.
Gregg said the proposal would give the same low-cost health benefits to two new groups of beneficiaries not originally included in the United Mine Workers Combined Benefit Fund, and adds new mandatory payments to these three health funds.
Over the past decade, most of the interest from the AML fund has gone to help pay the medical expenses of some retirees, their spouses and dependents.
Under current law, 50 percent of AML fees are given back to the state or Indian tribe that collected them. But Enzi said that the federal government has tied up the money in a trust fund that has been used for general fund projects or to make the budget numbers look better.
Santorum’s proposal would give states their backlogged shares of the money with payments from the general treasury over seven years. The money from the treasury would be capped at $490 million per year.
The proposal would also modify the AML formulas to provide historic production states that have the most serious reclamation problems with higher allocations but mandate that minimum program states receive at least $3 million.
The original version of the Santorum proposal would have replaced the state shares of Montana an Wyoming with money from the Mineral Leasing Act. But Western senators were concerned that there would not be enough such money to cover the bill, and after discussions, Santorum agreed to give the states their share from the general treasury.
The measure would reduce the fees by 20 percent, in two equal stages. The fee on surface-mined coal would drop by 10 percent, from 35 cents to 31.5 cents on Oct. 1, 2007, and to 28 cents on Oct. 1, 2012. The fee on lignite would drop from 10 cents to 9 cents and then to 8 cents.
Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said that while the provision “might not be the preferred route,” it’s a chance to fix the problem.
“The states have gone far too long without getting the money due them from the federal government,” he said. “Folks in Wyoming and the companies paying the tab have their limits. While the burden has fallen disproportionately on my state’s shoulders, the share the federal government agreed to distribute has not been paid. States, tribes and coal companies have honored their commitment; the federal government has not.”
The fund was established by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to finance the restoration of land abandoned or not fully restored by mining companies before Aug. 3, 1977. The fees were originally scheduled to expire in 1992, but Congress has extended them six times.
184 Santorum pushing abandoned mines fix 2006-07-26 16:20:17
July 26, 2006
Source: Associated Press
MARY CLARE JALONICK – Bucks County Courier Times
WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican, is pushing to add stalled abandoned mine cleanup legislation to a pending pension-overhaul bill.
The mining legislation would reauthorize a 1977 law that charges coal producers a per-ton fee to fund the cleanup of abandoned mines. Congress has approved several short-term extensions for the law, which has been caught in a battle between Wyoming and East Coast states for several years.
As the nation’s top coal producer, Wyoming is the biggest contributor to the federal cleanup fund and gets the most money from it. But Eastern states like Pennsylvania have declining coal production and the most abandoned mine land. They say they need money for reclamation of mines that are long abandoned.
Santorum’s mining legislation would eventually pay Wyoming the estimated $550 million dollars it is owed from the federal fund and reduce the fees paid by mining companies.
Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, the Republican chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee and the chairman of the negotiations on the pensions bill, said the legislation is “a good opportunity,” but noted “we still have we still have a mountain to climb.”
“It’s not a done deal,” he said.
Enzi said it’s “time for the federal government to pay its bill,” and addressed concerns from critics who say the legislation would make the pensions bill too expensive. He said it is misleading to characterize the proposal as increasing deficits because the coal money has been “hijacked” and never should have been counted against the deficit.
Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said the states have gone too long without the money they are owed.
“While this might not be the preferred route,” he said of Santorum’s bill, “it’s a chance to get it done.”
The bill would also compensate Montana for money it has paid into the fund. According to the office of Montana Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat who is on the negotiating committee, the Santorum provision would pay Montana about $11 million more annually by 2013. The funding would then drop back to current levels by about 2023, Baucus spokesman Barrett Kaiser said.
“Under this provision, Montana will be able to clean up more abandoned mines with a steady stream of revenue,” Baucus said in a statement. “It provides more dollars and more certainty.”
183 Time is Running out to Register for the AMD Conference 2006-07-25 13:00:55
This year’s Pennsylvania Conference on Abandoned Mine Reclamation is only six weeks away, but you have fewer than two weeks to register for very significant savings. And, as they say, when the deals are gone, they’re gone!
First, about the conference itself: The conference’s primary audience is watershed groups, particularly those who want or need some basic training or refreshers on subjects important to watershed groups. The theme is “Back to Basics” and will mostly be workshops on a whole bunch of timely subjects… surely something for everyone.
See www.treatminewater.com for the lineup and to register.
The conference will be at the Atherton Hotel Keith Pitzer and his wife Joan on Friday night. (Keith’s day job is the executive director of the Friends of the Cheat, a very successful watershed group in northern West Virginia, but his talent most definitely extends to his music.)
Now for the savings: Anyone who knows State College can tell you that
$45 per night plus tax ($55 per night double occupancy) is a great rate for a State College hotel. That’s what we’ve negotiated with the Atherton Hotel for the conference — but that rate is good only if you [u][b]register by July 28[/b][/u]. We’ve also worked hard to keep the conference fee to a bare minimum: just $50 for both days which, includes your meals.
But if you tend to procrastinate (as I too often do) and wait to register after July 28, it’s gonna cost you. You would pay the hotel’s regular rate (considerably more), and conference registration increases to $75. Is that perverse procrastination pleasure really worth it?
This is 8th year for Pennsylvania’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference. Every year it’s a bit different from the year before, but always a very worthwhile event. Volunteers from around the state and from many organizations work hard to organize a conference providing relevant, useful information to those working to reclaim abandoned mine land and waters. So register today. Do it for the volunteers, do it for your organization, do it for yourself, do it for fish, but register today (online at www.treatminewater.com) for this year’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference.
182 ECRR Grant Announcement July – August 2006 2006-07-25 12:45:03[b][u]Non-Federal Grants[/u][/b] [b]1. Water Resource Education Network (WREN)[/b]
WREN offers funds for watershed groups to attend water resources education/management trainings and conferences.[i]Match: 5% Average Award: reimbursement Deadline: none[/i]
WREN also offers Opportunity Grants for “great, last minute ideas” relating to watershed education or drinking water protection.[i]Match: none Average Award: $100-$250 Deadline: none[/i]
The Cargill company, along with The Conservation Fund, provides mini-grants to watershed organizations working within Cargill communities. Projects funded in the past include water festivals and stream clean-ups. ECRR states with Cargill locations include: OH, IN, AL.[i]Match: none Average Award: $3,000 or less Deadline: none [/i]
The Environmental Grants Program focuses on small organizations not traditionally funded by large grantmakers.[i]Match: none Average Award: $3,000- $5,000 Deadline: August 31[/i]
http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2927[b]4. Water Environment Research Foundation Pre-Proposals for Unsolicited Research[/b]
WERF seems to focus on stormwater; however, they also seem open to all sorts of water-related research.[i]Match: none Average Award: www.werf.org/funding/avail_funding_unsolicited.cfm [u][b]Conferences/ Trainings[/b][/u] [b]1. Free Online GIS Class[/b]
Land Trust Alliance is offering 2 free online classes: one for beginners and one for the more advanced. Though the course is geared towards land trusts, the basic information presented will be useful to watershed groups.[i]Cost: none Date: July 25, 1-2 pm Beginners, July 27, 1-2 pm Established[/i]
Please subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with “subcribe” in the subject line and your name, state, and watershed in the body. Subsciption is FREE and it helps us keep an accurate count of number of readers and the states in which they live. Thank you.
Visit Our Website! www.easterncoal.org
ECRR provides a helping hand to grassroots environmental groups striving to solve water quality issues throughout Appalachia’s Coal Country.
Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable 119 S. Price Street, Suite 206, Kingwood, WV 26537
Phone 304.329.8049 Fax 304.329.3622 Email email@example.com
181 DEP has more abandoned mines to reclaim than funds to do it 2006-07-20 16:38:30
Sunday, July 09, 2006
By Mike Bucsko
CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP — Twenty years ago, a group of coal miners in southern Indiana County developed a trout nursery that became one of the first such cooperative ventures in the state.
Necessity had given birth to the nursery. The miners were tired of having to drive all over southwestern Pennsylvania to fish. Their local waterways, Blacklegs Creek and its tributaries, were too polluted by acid draining from abandoned mines to sustain aquatic life.
At the urging of state officials, the miners formed the Blackleggs Creek Watershed Association — they misspelled the name of the creek when forming the group and decided just to leave it that way — as a conduit for state money to help the nursery and to address the mine-runoff problem. During the past six years, the organization has obtained more than $1 million from the state and federal governments and local contributors to clean up the pollution.
While the site along Big Run in Conemaugh, a tributary of Blacklegs Creek, is an example of a successful remediation, there are thousands of other sites yet to be addressed. The state has many more sites than the dollars it needs to deal with more than 5,000 high-priority abandoned mines. The Department of Environmental Protection sees the hazards to public health from abandoned mines as its top environmental problem.
Pennsylvania has nearly 185,000 acres of abandoned surface coal mines and at least 50,000 underground mines, though an exact count of underground mines is impossible. About 3 million Pennsylvanians live above underground mines and 1 million live within a mile of abandoned surface mines, said Tom Rathbun, of the DEP’s Office of Mineral Resources Management.
People in the southwestern bituminous and northeastern anthracite mining areas live with the environmental hazards of two centuries of coal digging. The hazards include mines draining into waterways, subsidence and underground fires.
A few miles outside of Ford City, Armstrong County, rust-colored water from the closed Allegheny River Mining Co. mine in Cadogan runs into Brunner Run, which travels for a mile before it disappears underground. Nearby, two ponds hold water the color of caramel.
Behind a coal pile, drainage pipes flow from the mine into three more holding ponds, where mine water is filtered before it is discharged into the Allegheny River.
The difference between the landscape of the Cadogan site and the reclamation project in Indiana County is dramatic.
The Armstrong County site looks like what it is — an abandoned mine with rusted and broken-down structures and old coal piles. Its ponds contain multicolored liquid, and foam collects in trenches that carry the water from the mine to the ponds.
In Conemaugh, there are two ponds, surrounded by woods and fields. The mine drainage is clearer because it is filtered twice, once through tons of calcium carbonate limestone gravel and then through a system in a second pond.
It is part of a process that reduces the acidity of the water before it flows into Big Run, which, in turn, flows into Blacklegs Creek. Across Sportsman Road and up the hill, a 270-by-70-foot ditch has been dug for a third pond that will treat drainage from another mine opening. A fourth pond is planned nearby.
The group hopes to clean up the Blacklegs Creek watershed to the point where the creek dumps into the Kiskiminetas River five miles away in Saltsburg, said Art Grguric, one of the founders of the watershed organization and now the group’s wetlands coordinator. Mr. Grguric and the others left mining in the mid-1990s after their mine closed.
The differences in the remediation of environmental issues at the two old mine sites reflect a difference in the intent of the two forces behind the efforts: the Blackleggs Creek Watershed Association and Nic Di Cio, owner of the Armstrong County site, Mr. Rathbun said.
“What [the Blackleggs Watershed Association] is trying to do is restore the stream to pristine condition,” Mr. Rathbun said. “What they’re doing in Armstrong County is trying to restore Cadogan to the limits of the law.”
Mr. Di Cio, who bought the 400-acre Cadogan mine site three years ago, said the situation wasn’t as dire as it looks.
He’s treating mine drainage on the Cadogan property, which the DEP inspects quarterly. Meanwhile, he’s pursuing three options to improve and, eventually, to reclaim the property.
The key is to remove 10 million tons of coal refuse, which causes 95 percent of the acid-mine drainage on the property, he said.
Options include building a co-generation plant to be fueled with the coal refuse. He also could sell the coal refuse to an existing coal-burning power plant.
Building a plant to use the Fischer-Trope process of gasifying coal and converting it into diesel fuel represents a third option, he said.
Mr. Di Cio, of Cadogan, owner of Reyna Foods in the Strip District, operates a tortilla chip plant next to the mine site.
He said he bought the mine property partly as a community service, but also because he saw its economic potential, even if it takes years to realize that potential.
For now, he said, he feels responsible to clean it up and leave a positive legacy.
“I bought it to rectify the problem,” he said. “It’s going to happen.”[b]Thousands of sites[/b]
There are thousands of other abandoned mine sites waiting for reclamation. Armstrong County, with 313 sites that take up 17,772 acres, is second behind Clearfield County for the most abandoned mine sites in the state.
Every day, contaminated water from the mines and sediment from coal waste piles seep into waterways, Mr. Rathbun said. The state has to use the money it has to address the sites that federal officials have designated as priorities, characterized as such because of their danger to the public from problems that include subsidence and acid mine drainage.
If the federal allocation for reclamation remains at $20 million to $25 million a year, it will take decades to fix problems at the 4,617 sites that remain untouched. U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has proposed legislation that would raise that amount to $60 million a year, enough to clean up those sites that have top priority under federal guidelines. Even so, thousands of other abandoned mine locations will not be addressed.
That’s why the state embraces the efforts of local organizations such as the Blackleggs Creek Watershed Association, Mr. Rathbun said. Those organizations can coordinate remediation work and obtain grants, including Growing Greener state funds, and address mine reclamation immediately, he said.
“We can’t sit around waiting for the federal government to give us money,” Mr. Rathbun said. “We have to move. Helping these small watershed groups and these small sportsmen groups is the best possible way to accomplish our goals.”
But with all they’ve accomplished over the years, even the sportsmen at the Indiana County organization have their work cut out for them.
There are 50 discharge sites from mines in Conemaugh, and only a few have been addressed. Still, the former miners have accomplished much, said Nick Pinnizotto, senior director of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s watershed programs in Blairsville.
“When it’s all said and done, this little group will end up using between $3 million and $5 million to clean up this area,” Mr. Pinnizotto said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
(David Templeton contributed to this report. Mike Bucsko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1732. )
Wilkes-Barre- The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR), Luzerne Conservation District, and the Office of Surface Mining has announced a unique collaborative art show with many regional artists that will be held at Arts YOUniverse in Wilkes-Barre, PA from August 6th through the 19th. Arts YOUniverse is located on 156 South Franklin Street.
The pieces included in the gallery showing have incorporated iron oxide
pigment recovered from Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) from many abandoned mine discharges throughout Luzerne and Schuylkill County.
Devon Rother, EPCAMR Anthracite Art Education Intern, and Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Regional Coordinator for the Luzerne Conservation District’s Abandoned Mine Land Program have been taking local artists from up and down the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley to the locations of where the iron oxide deposits are located and have discussed ways to remediate the sites, improve the water quality, and reuse the orange water deposits as a resource for artists as a pigment. Devon’s internship is partially funded through a federal Summer Watershed Internship Grant Program supported by the Office of Surface Mining, EPCAMR, and the Luzerne Conservation District.
This event will be of interest to local artists, community members, college students interested in art and the environment, the environmentally conscious, local historians, mining buffs, and art
enthusiasts. “It’s also another way to get some foot traffic back in the Downtown Area of Wilkes-Barre”, says Robert Hughes, a recent graduate of the 2006 Leadership Wilkes-Barre and area native. “While the City is experiencing its own Renaissance of Downtown redevelopment, it only seems appropriate that this type of art show goes hand in hand with the positive developments that are ongoing. I don’t believe that it’s ironic that I personally met Kathleen Godwin, Executive Director or Kathy Laskaris, through the Leadership Wilkes-Barre Program, “I Believe” it was fate!” “There isn’t a better place for us to present this inaugural showcase of local talented artists and committed active environmentalists than in the City of Wilkes-Barre, right now,” Hughes emphatically stated.
The gallery showing will be a blend of art and the environment, using art to express and highlight the environmental impacts in our area created by past mining practices while at the same time allowing the artists to showcase their talents in various mediums.
For a preview of some of the art pieces, please visit our Photo Gallery. “When you visit an AMD impacted site, it’s a very stimulating experience of the mind, because not only do you get to take a hike off a few beaten paths of lush greenery and old abandoned railroad grades, you get to take in the spectrum of colorful wetland vegetation, hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg smell) venting from the mines, the damp smell of the coal silt
and black culm located in these areas after a morning dew, the sounds of the mine water splashing about from the boreholes or air shafts like fountains, and of course, last but not least, the almost neon-colored hues of oranges, reds, and yellows, of the iron oxide deposits that make many of our waterways, polluted.” Hughes explained.
Some of the art work displayed will focus on abandoned mine features and their impacts on the land in the Wyoming Valley, particularly in the areas of South Wilkes-Barre, City of Nanticoke, Hanover Township, and Newport Township. Art work will include images such as abandoned water-filled stripping pits, abandoned air shafts, boreholes, passive treatment systems, and local streams polluted with Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD). More works of art and additional artists are joining the effort as the Summer continues and future Art Shows are being planned for the AfA Gallery in Downtown Scranton and at the Luzerne Conservation District’s Environmental Education Center leading into the Fall of 2006 and Spring of 2007.
This endeavor has been supported locally with great enthusiasm by the local art community as a way to recycle what is commonly considered a pollutant to aquatic and insect life in our streams. However, recently, due to the hard work and creative thinking of the staff from the Luzerne Conservation District’s AML Program, EPCAMR, and the local art community, this same pigment is now more commonly being accepted as a valuable resource to the art world as an alternative pigment with value. Grants have already been applied for by the Luzerne Conservation District, EPCAMR, and area artists to continue to pursue this exciting opportunity to work with mine drainage in a positive way to restoring our environment. The Earth Conservancy has also allowed EPCAMR to tour their lands to evaluate their mine drainage sites and are
willing and active partners who are looking for ways to remove the years of iron deposits from their AMD treatment wetlands along Dundee Road.
This iron oxide pigment will be used in a variety of mediums such as watercolor, acrylic, pastel, oils as well as in pottery, wood stains, ceramics, photography, papermaking, ink paintings, plastics, chalk, and fabric dying. It’s going to be a must see for the community! Join us and open your eyes to a new world of AMD Resource Recovery Potential in Northeastern PA.
For more information about EPCAMR, visit www.orangewaternetwork.org
179 B-WET Grant Program for the Chesapeake Bay 2006-07-07 14:26:37
The 2007 Bay Watershed Education & Training (B-WET) Program Request for Proposals for the Chesapeake Bay watershed was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 marking the beginning of the sixth grant cycle for this popular program.
Chesapeake Bay B-WET provides hands-on environmental education to students and teachers to foster stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Projects support the stewardship and meaningful watershed educational experiences goals of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement by:
(1) providing meaningful bay or stream outdoor experiences to students in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,
(2) training teachers to provide this experience for their students, or
(3) exemplary programs combining the two objectives.
Final Proposals must be received by 5pm on Monday, October 23, 2006
For more information and detailed application instructions, please visit the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office Education website at: http://noaa.chesapeakebay.net/educationmain.aspx
178 Grant Announcements from the Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable 2006-07-07 12:17:26
Please remember to visit The Eastern Coal Region Roundtable Funding Sources Archive for more grant opportunities relevant to the Appalacian Coal Fields.
The Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable (ECRR) was created through a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM). This site is a “meeting place” for watershed organizations working in eastern coal country. Their region includes nine states: AL, IN, KY, MD, OH, PA, TN, VA, & WV
177 The day after the floods, an Anthracite Regional perspective 2006-06-29 18:04:32
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Compiled by Michael Hewitt
EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Coordinator
Summer rains mean trouble for residents living above abandoned mine workings in the Anthracite Region. Schuylkill County was hit worse than most of the other counties in the region with some areas seeing more than a foot and a half of rainfall within a few days. The Audenried Treatment System has blown out for the second time since it was installed in December and is now running black. Sink holes were opening up all over the Hazleton area and Northern Schuylkill County. Mine openings that had been dry for decades were gushing like old faithful in Carbondale. Kenobles Groves Amusement Park is completely inundated again in Elysburg.
The Anthracite Region was almost finished with repairs from flooding during Ivan (9/04), but this nameless monster has wiped the slate clean and is forcing residents to start over again.[b]Old Forge, Lackawanna County[/b] , One of the communities hit the earliest. As of Tuesday, most of the major rivers the area had stayed in their banks but the Lackawanna River rose quickly. Flood gates in both Olyphant and lower Green Ridge in Scranton were closed along the river.
Officials in Old Forge said the river there could go higher than ever before, up to six feet higher. Old Forge Borough announced evacuations as the evening progressed. Included in the evacuations were: the 1100 to 1300 blocks of South Main Street; Connell Street; Ripple Street; Breaker Street; Union Street; Foundry Street and Humphrey Street, all in the immediate vicinity of the Old Forge Borehole and the inlet of St. John’s Creek. (Jon Meyer, WNEP News)
On a normal day, the Old Forge Borehole spews 50 Million gallons of mine drainage per day into the Lackawanna River and St. John’s Creek is completely dry due to several fractures in the stream bed which leak water into the mine pool below the ground.[b]South Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County[/b] – A mandatory evacuation was issued for people living in south Wilkes-Barre and Hanover Township near Solomon Creek on Tuesday as well.
Mayor Tom Leighton said anyone who was affected by any kind of flooding when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan hit in September, 2004 should expect the same thing, if not worse, this time around. (Brandie Meng, WNEP News)
Solomon Creek receives increased stormwater from newer commercial developments in the headwaters of the creek. Additionally, 2 mine drainage boreholes with average flows over 20,000 gallons per minute spill into the creek before it reaches the levee system, pumping station and the river.[b]Wyoming Valley, Luzerne County[/b] – The Luzerne County commissioners and emergency management officials called for mandatory evacuations Wednesday afternoon for Luzerne County residents who were flooded in 1972 with stormwater brewed up by Hurricane Agnes.
The Susquehanna crested at around 34 feet Wednesday evening. Flood stage is 22 feet, but the new levee system was built to withstand water 41 feet high. Approximately 200,000 were forced to find higher ground as a precautionary measure. Emergency shelters were filled to maximum levels.
Those protected by the levy system, were allowed back to their homes by noon the next day. Areas not protected by the levees in the Wyoming Valley are still under water and people there are not being allowed back to their homes.
River levels on the Susquehanna River continued to drop Thursday as most spots reported crests below record levels.[b]Near Sheppton, Schuylkill County[/b] – Extremely high flows, resulting from large amounts of rain and snow melt, caused a blowout behind the intake of the Audenried Tunnel Treatment system in the spring. This summer’s deluge caused another blowout at the intake of the system. Black water spewed out of the tunnel and into the system. What was a surrealistic scene, almost seaside landscape, of white treatment tanks and turquoise blue settling ponds only a week before during the dedication of the treatment system turned into another surrealistic scene painted black. [b]Carbondale, Lackawanna County[/b] – Water gushed from a mine opening, forcing crews into action. It happened in an area where people didn’t think they had to worry about high water.
The sound or rushing water through Carbondale was hard to miss. It flowed right past Jim McMyne’s home near Wayne and Cortland Streets. It filled his basement and his neighbor’s. “I’ve been here 53 years and I’ve never had even five percent of what this is,” McMyne said.
The water had to go somewhere, neighbors tried unsuccessfully to sandbag their property. Down the road, crews worked to direct the water onto Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue, instead of letting it seep into every yard it could find. It tore up the road as it went but that’s better than the alternative, said Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor. (Julie Sidoni, WNEP News)[b]Schuylkill County [/b]- Schuylkill County was also under a flood warning Monday. In Tamaqua the rain made a mess of the community swimming pool.
Officials in Schuylkill County report nearly one-fourth of Schuylkill Haven was under water Wednesday morning. The water flowed out the front door of a supermarket in Schuylkill Haven on the side of town that has been inundated by the Little Schuylkill River. (Bob Reynolds, WNEP News)
A fifty-foot hole opened up early Wednesday morning along Route 924 between Frackville and Shenandoah. Two cars plunged into the hole. The people inside the cars were rescued and taken to the hospital. Following extraction of the vehicles, the PennDOT crew awaited the arrival of state mining officials, who were called to the scene to examine the hole to determine if a possible collapse of an underground mine shaft contributed to the cave-in. However, PennDOT crews on scene speculated that several consecutive days of unrelenting rainfall was the greatest contributor to the collapse of the roadway.
In the valley below the Route 924 sinkhole, the borough of Gilberton lay submerged under approximately five feet of water a fitting sight for a town that was once nicknamed “Duck Town”.
Mayor Mary Lou Hannon called a state of emergency in Gilberton Borough late Tuesday morning when the unrelenting rain overwhelmed the community’s storm drain and water pump systems.
By Wednesday morning, the Mahanoy Creek, which flows parallel to Railroad Street in Gilberton, overflowed its banks and plunged the community underwater.
An emergency shelter was established inside a community church that sits on higher ground at the eastern end of the borough while heavy equipment and volunteer workers from the nearby Reading Anthracite Coal Co. piled walls of dirt on the west side of Main Street, creating an artificial dam that officials hoped would hold the water back long enough to begin pumping floodwaters out of the streets. (MIA LIGHT, Standard Speaker)
U.S. Rep. T. Timothy Holden, state Sen. James J. Rhoades and state Rep. Neal P. Goodman surveyed some of the flooding damage in Schuylkill County on Wednesday afternoon.
The first stop on the legislators’ tour was Wade Road in Saint Clair to view a 30-by-35-foot sinkhole across from Tom’s Garage and Auto Sales.
C.J. Weber, chairman of the Saint Clair Sewer Authority, said the probable cause was an old mine running beneath the road. The wooden support beams of the mine were visible at the bottom of the orifice. On their way through Saint Claire, they discovered another smaller sinkhole, about 8 feet deep, that opened on Front Street.
The group then made its way to the Saint Clair Sewage Treatment Plant, which was not operational. The plant’s lower two levels were completely flooded.
The legislators also visited Port Carbon, one of the hardest-hit boroughs in the county, which experienced massive flooding and widespread power outages.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Rhoades, R-29. (JOSH PARSONS, REPUBLICAN & Herald)
For 70 years, Paul Slusser lived along Catawissa Creek near Mainville, but he could never catch a fish in the stream, a friend recalls.
So about 10 years ago, Slusser visited the offices of the Columbia County Conservation District and asked how he could help get some trout back in the creek, said Mary Wagner.
Wagner, the district’s manager, says Slusser’s curiosity was the first trickle in what became a torrent of activity to clean the stream.
Slusser helped found the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association. He died in 1998.
But two months ago, another man made Slusser’s dream come true.
Leonardo Zanolini, 73, dropped his line into the creek just downstream of the Zion Grove Bridge and came out with four native brook trout, he says.
They were all longer than 10 inches, he said. By their pink meat, he could tell they were not stocked fish. Farm-grown fish are gray inside, he said.
Zanolini was celebrated Saturday for his significant catch. He has lived near Zion Grove for five years, and he knew Catawissa Creek was barren of fish.
But he wanted to play around on the first day of trout season, he says, so he took a chance.
When he came home with his catch, his wife, Barbara Zanolini, 76, rolled the fish in flour and butter and fried them.
“They were good,” Mr. Zanolini says, smiling.[b]Swimming-pool clear[/b]
The creek does not look like a polluted mess.
For years, people have remarked on how clear the creek’s water is, like a pool, says Chuck Henry, a Beaver Township supervisor and a director of the restoration group.
But that clear water belied the stream’s pollution, noted Steven T. Rier, a Bloomsburg University professor studying the creek.
The lack of muck meant nothing could survive in the acid water, said Rier, who serves in the department of biological and allied health sciences.
“It looked great,” Rier said. “But there was very little living in it.”
Rier, graduate student Jennifer Biddinger and undergraduate Roger Skull have started to look at the creek’s water to track its cleanup.
They want to see how the stream will handle nutrients now that it is being cleaned.
Rier will not consider fish in his study. But Wytovich and Wagner hope to start a fish count to see if those numbers go up.[b]Filled with nutrients[/b]
Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous are bad for bodies of water, Rier explained. And they hit the Chesapeake Bay especially hard. That is where the creek’s waters end up after a trip through the Susquehanna River.
Healthy streams keep a balance of nutrients, Rier said. The stream’s plants and animals break those down before the nutrients get to larger waters, he said.
Until recently, Catawissa Creek had been passing along all of its nutrients, he said.
It is still too early to see changes, but Rier believes that the stream will start to hold on to the nutrients.
The acidity of the water also made it impossible for micro-organisms to live, Rier explained. Those tiny plants and animals form the bottom of the food chain, so animals bigger than them, like insects and fish, had nothing to eat.
That seems to be changing.[b]Can of worms [/b]
Supervisor Henry and his brother-in-law, Arnold Halye, say people have spotted trout, smallmouth bass and crawfish below the bridge outside Shumantown.
At Saturday’s dedication of an acid runoff treatment system, several officials invoked the image of droves of fishermen seeking out the creek.
Now that the creek’s prospects look good, they say, it opens a can of worms, say Henry and Halye. But they are so optimistic about the creek’s recovery, that they’re already banking on plenty of visitors.
They say the restoration group is trying to get small parking areas *enough for three or four cars * installed on private property along the entire creek. That will allow small groups to fish at many spots, they say.
They want to avoid the impact of large groups gathering at a few places, they said.
By Ben Timberlake
Staff Writer, Press Enterprise
175 Adenried Treatment System Dedication in the Catawissa Watershed 2006-06-29 14:39:04
By BEN TIMBERLAKE
Press Enterprise Writer
Edited by Michael Hewitt
EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Coordinator
SHEPPTON * Trout and other fish are coming back to acid-polluted Catawissa Creek, thanks to the efforts of residents and a novel cleaning system for mine drainage.
Citizen groups and government agencies teamed up to create a large-scale filter that cleans aluminum out of water draining from an abandoned mine shaft here in Schuylkill County’s East Union Township.
The result is the biggest system of its kind in the state, and perhaps in
the country, says the project’s manager.
The filter at the Audenreid Tunnel is special because it requires little
maintenance, said Clayton Bubeck of Lancaster-based engineering firm Rettew.
Organizers knew they could get money to build the thing, but that it would
be harder to pay for operations, he explained.
The project cost about $2.2 million, funded mostly with state and federal
No one needs to be on the site every day, Bubeck said. Someone has to visit the site at least once a month.
More than 80 people showed up to see the new system dedicated Saturday afternoon.
Dating from the 1930s, the Audenreid Tunnel now drains water from three former coal mines. For its entire history, it has leaked acidic water into Catawissa and Tomhicken creeks.[b]A giant filter [/b]
Here is how Bubeck and Ed Wytovich, president of the Catawissa Creek
Restoration Association, describe the system:
Water from the mine runs into a set of pipes at the tunnel’s mouth. The
pipes are covered with loose rocks to keep debris like leaves and twigs from clogging the system.
The water runs to three concrete tanks set in a row. Each one is 120 feet
across and 12 feet deep. Each holds 1 million gallons.
But about half of their volume is taken up by egg-sized limestone rocks.
Piled 10 feet high, there are 4,500 tons of the rock, or about 200 trailers
worth, in each tank.
The water comes up through pipes laid at the bottom of each tank and percolates through the rocks.
The limestone oxidizes the water, which turns the aluminum into a solid.
That turns the mixture into a suspension. And that makes it possible for the aluminum to be separated from the water.[b]Antacid tablet [/b]
Most of the water drains from the tops of the tanks down shallow spillways into the first of two ponds.
The rocks along the spillways are coated with white deposits of the aluminum hydroxide.
The water moves from the first to the second pond. In both bodies, the water slows long enough to drop the aluminum to the bottom.
The clean water runs down a final spillway and into Catawissa Creek.
The process is kind of like giving the creek an antacid tablet, says
Ed Wytovich, President of the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association, who is also an eighth-grade science teacher in the Upper Dauphin Area School District. Or, he agrees, it could also be compared to a filter in a water pitcher.[b]’Rebirth’ [/b]
Catawissa Creek flows 36 miles, starting in Luzerne County’s Hazle Township. It rolls into Schuylkill County through East Union Township and along the border with Union Township.
It bends north into North Union Township, then crosses into Columbia County, continuing through Beaver and Main Townships. It runs through Catawissa and empties into the Susquehanna River.
Wytovich says the Audenreid treatment system marks a “rebirth” of the
But the cleanup effort started modestly, Mary Wagner, Columbia County Conservation District Manager, recalls . In 1999, she and about 30 other people shoveled limestone from the Brandonville Bridge into the creek.[b]More tunnels [/b]
The Audenreid Tunnel is the largest mine drainage in the creek’s
About 9,000 gallons of water leaves the system each minute. That rate can get as high as 15,000 gallons, or about two tractor-trailers full.
About 15 million gallons will pass through the system each day, Bubeck said.
When the Audenreid Tunnel runoff joins the stream, it accounts for about
two-thirds of the creek’s water.
Water from the smaller Oneida Tunnel near Eagle Rock is already being
The conservation district and restoration group aims to work on another
three tunnels in the next few years, Wagner said.
Those five sources account for 80 percent of the creek’s pollution, she
When the water leaves the mine, it is very acidic, with a pH level of 3.8.
The pH scale measures whether something is acidic or alkaline. Neutral *neither acidic nor alkaline * is a 7 on the pH scale.
When the water leaves the treatment system, it has a pH of 5.
Bubeck and Wytovich hope to add more limestone to the tanks to get the pH as high as 6.5.
That will cost another $100,000, Wytovich said.
And new limestone will have to be added from time to time, Bubeck noted. The material dissolves at about 600 tons per year as it neutralizes the water, Wytovich said.[b]Brown cloud [/b]
Wytovich says the tanks should be flushed weekly. He hopes to get an
automated system. But for now, to open one of two valves on each tank, it
takes 150 labored turns of a rod the size of a steering wheel.
When those open, the water drains through pipes at the base of the tanks, then into the pond.
A brown cloud spreads from an outflow pipe into the pond, which has a
That comes from the aluminum hydroxide, as the water drops to the bottom of the ponds.
The question remains what do with those deposits, Wytovich acknowledged. But that problem is a few years away, he said.
Manure storage retooled
There was not much space in which to build the system, Bubeck notes. The site is hemmed in by a mountain, a protected swamp, the stream itself and an underground high-pressure gas line.
In similar systems, the treatment area would be a broad pond with shallow banks, Bubeck said. That could be built more cheaply.
Don Murray, an engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, had the idea of using steep tanks that are more often used to store manure on dairy farms.
Ben Timberlake can be reached at 752-3646 or at email@example.com.
174 Susquehanna River Conference to be hosted by Bucknell University 2006-06-29 14:14:00
Conservation Districts in the Upper Susquehanna Watershed:
You are invited to participate in a daylong conference on the Upper Susquehanna Watershed (upstream from Selinsgrove) and its communities that will be held on September 23, 2006 at Bucknell University. This conference is being planned by the new Bucknell University Environmental Center and the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, which includes colleges and universities in the region, Geisinger Medical Center, and representatives from local nonprofit and government agencies.
The purposes of the conference are to discuss the components that should go into an annual State of the River report, showcase key initiatives, and promote further collaboration between area universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to improve the health of the watershed and its communities.
Each session will feature short presentations, with the bulk of the time devoted to discussion. A reception and poster viewing session will provide additional opportunities for the exchange of information on specific initiatives. We encourage you to consider presenting a poster.
A conference program and registration form are below. We would like to receive registration forms by June 30, 2006.
7:30AM – CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST AND COFFEE AVAILABLE
I 8AM – Opening Event
ïƒ˜Welcome and introduction by representatives of Bucknell University and Geisinger Health System
ïƒ˜Keynote Address by Will Baker, President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
II 9:00AM – Introduction
ïƒ˜Goals for the conference, presented by Skip Wieder, Geisinger Health System and Convener of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies:
ï‚§Define the route to a regular “State of the River” report.
ï‚§Establish communication links between the participants to improve both our understanding of all dimensions of the State of the River and the State of the River itself.
ï‚§Establish working groups to follow up on ideas generated through this conference.
III 9:15AM – Environmental Science on the River – Moderator: Matt McTammany, Bucknell Biologist
ïƒ˜Presentations followed by discussion to set an agenda for further research.
ï‚§North Branch-fishes and other environmental indicators (Brian Mangan, King’s College Biologist)
ï‚§West Branch,implications of key pieces of data from monitoring projects (Mel Zimmerman, Lycoming Biologist)
ï‚§Emerging data on link between acid mine drainage and nutrient processing (Steven Rier, Bloomsburg Biologist)
IV 11:00AM – Environmental Protection and Restoration – Moderator: Renee Carey, Northcentral PA Conservancy
ïƒ˜Presentations followed by discussion to set an agenda for further initiatives.
ï‚§Physical behaviors of streams that pose challenges for restoration (Craig Kochel, Bucknell Geologist)
ï‚§State government regulations and work with watershed groups (Joan Sattler, PA Dept. of Env. Protection)
ï‚§Stormwater management on a watershed basis (David Heicher, Susquehanna River Basin Commission)
ï‚§How private funders are promoting restoration (John Dawes, Western PA Watershed Program)
V Lunch with Keynote Address by Ann Swanson, Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Commission
VI 2:00PM – Connections between the River and Community Vibrancy – Moderator: Bob Hormell, SEDA-COG
ïƒ˜Presentations followed by discussion on additional work needed to understand the community-river connection.
ï‚§Economic development impacts of waterfront restoration: focus on Williamsport (Jerry Walls, Lycoming Co Planning Director)
ï‚§Community design considerations in relating to the river: focus on Selinsgrove (Caru Bowns, Penn State Landscape Architect)
ï‚§Using the river to enhance quality of life (Brian Auman, SEDA-COG and Susquehanna Greenways)
ï‚§Historical context of river-town relations (Ben Marsh, Bucknell University Geographer)
VII 3:45PM – Environmental Humanities in the River Basin – Moderator: Alf Siewers, Bucknell English Professor
ïƒ˜Presentations followed by discussion to set an agenda for further scholarship.
ï‚§Humanities scholarship in Centralia and Selinsgrove (Ed Slavishak or Karol Weaver, Susq Univ Historians)
ï‚§Early contact between Europeans and North Americans (Katie Faull, Bucknell German/ Humanities Professor)
ï‚§The Susquehanna’s role in the Underground Railroad (Scott Duncan, SEDA-COG)
ï‚§Planned Humanities Journal on the Susquehanna (Jerry Wemple, Bloomsburg English Professor)
VIII 5:15PM – Concluding Remarks by Peter Wilshusen and Craig Kochel, Bucknell Environmental Ctr Directors
5:30PM , RECEPTION, POSTER VIEWING AND POETRY READING
PLEASE SUBMIT BY JUNE 30, 2006
A continental breakfast, snacks, and a sit-down lunch will be provided. Please list below any dietary restrictions or requests.
If you need information on lodging, please contact Kim DiRocco (see contact information below). If you have other questions about the conference, please contact Hannah Holm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please mail this form, with your $10 registration fee (waived for presenters and students; checks payable to Bucknell University Environmental Center), by June 30, 2006 to:
Kim DiRocco , Conference Registration
Environmental Studies Program/ GEOGR
Lewisburg, PA 17837
phone: (570) 577-1421
173 Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team comes to Penn State Wilkes-Barre 2006-06-19 14:27:33
LEHMAN TWP. , There is only one problem greater than the poverty plaguing the 13 states comprising the Appalachia region , acid mine drainage.
Dr. T. Allan Comp, director of the federal Office of Surface Mining/VISTA, joined 35 representatives of watershed groups from six states for the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Training Initiative at Penn State Wilkes-Barre last week. The three-day meeting focused on efforts to improve reclamation work on mine lands throughout the eastern U.S.
Comp said such work is critical not only because acid mine drainage is the greatest problem, but also the central core of Appalachia, a region ranging from Pennsylvania to Alabama, is the most damaged ecosystem in the country.
“When it comes to past mining practices, we as a nation celebrated what we were doing then,” Comp said. “In the 1970s, that changed and we began to regulate mining. It’s better now and the watershed groups are increasing to more than 800 across the region. It’s really encouraging.”
The three-day training focused on grant writing, monitoring watershed health, education and outreach and economic redevelopment.
Although the Appalachia region is scarred with different mining techniques, the same problem persists throughout all the states.
As a result, similar remediation techniques can be applied throughout the region, making last week’s conference a vital tool.
“We’re all doing the same work, just in different locales,” said Bruce Golden, regional director of the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. “Within coal country, a lot of our needs are common. This training allows us to share what works so we’re not re-inventing the wheel.”
Comp said much of the training can be used to facilitate efforts of local watershed groups working to clean up streams from past mining practices. One crucial component, he said, is grant writing.
“We need to strengthen the capacity of local watershed groups to raise money to accomplish their goals,” Comp said. “The programs and the grants are intertwined.”
The event was organized by Robert Hughes, regional director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. Hughes said the work of EPCAMR partnering with OSM to fund mine reclamation projects was a major reason why the annual training was held in the area.
172 Senator pushes bill for abandoned mines 2006-06-19 11:15:40
By Brian Bowling
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Proponents for speeding up the elimination of Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine lands hope a new proposal can go where no previous one has gone — to the House and Senate floors.
A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn Hills, could triple the federal money the state receives to clean up abandoned mines from $20 million to $50 million to $60 million annually.
Fixing the abandoned mines that pose the highest public health and safety risks would cost more than $1 billion, state officials say. The extra money could allow for those high-risk mines to be repaired in about 16 years.
Without it, “None of us will be here to see the end of our abandoned mine land problem,” Scott Roberts, deputy secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Friday at a news conference outside Heinz Field on the North Shore.
Old mining sites represent Pennsylvania’s biggest environmental problem both in terms of their impact and the cost of cleaning them up, Roberts said.
Bills similar to Santorum’s have languished in the U.S. House and Senate in recent years, mainly because western state Republicans have opposed attempts to shift abandoned mine land money from the West to the East.
The money now is divided among states according to their current annual coal production, giving Western states an edge because they mine more coal. Santorum’s bill would split the money based on states’ historic coal production.
Eastern states argue they should receive a larger share of the money because most of the nation’s abandoned mine lands are east of the Mississippi River.
Neither western Republican senators nor members of either party on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have signed off on the bill. The two Republican senators from Wyoming — Craig Thomas and Michael Enzi — have vehemently opposed previous attempts to shift abandoned mine money from the West to the East.
Santorum is talking with House and Senate leaders about inserting his proposal into a pension bill due for a final vote in the next month. Enzi is on the committee that’s working out a House-Senate compromise on the bill. So far, he hasn’t agreed to Santorum’s proposal.
“That’s just something we’re going to have to work through,” Santorum said.
Brian Bowling can be reached at email@example.com or (412) 320-7910.
Senate Bill will bring $1 Billion to Pennsylvania for Environmental Clean-Up Efforts Pennsylvania mining industry, labor unions and environmental conservation organizations rally together in Pittsburgh
June 16, 2006
Pittsburgh, PA , U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today hosted a press conference on the North Shore to discuss his legislation S.2616, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2006. The bill will deliver an unprecedented $1 billion to Pennsylvania alone over sixteen years to clean up abandoned mine land (AML) sites. AML sites may consist of one or more of the following features: abandoned strip mines; spoil piles, mine entries; and mine shafts.
In Allegheny County alone there are 4,514 acres of abandoned mine lands. In the surrounding counties of Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland, Washington and Fayette there are 25,193 acres of abandoned mine lands, and statewide there is a total of more than 184,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and 4,000 miles of biologically dead rivers and streams due to mine pollution. It is estimated that 1.4 million Pennsylvanians live within one mile of an AML site.
“I cannot emphasize the importance of this legislation to Pennsylvania. Today we stand on the North Shore and look out at Point State Park and we can see the progress that has been made due to cleanup and land reclamation funding. This is just a sample of what we hope to see in the hundred of communities and thousands of acres across our state,” said Senator Santorum. “This bill will bring an unprecedented amount of funding to Pennsylvania and will sustain multi-year planning for abandoned mine land cleanup. It will also help to create local jobs that will stay in Pennsylvania.”
This bill will also pay for healthcare costs of orphan mine workers. Due to a decline in the number of employers contributing to the healthcare plans of orphan beneficiaries (employees from mine companies that have folded or declared bankruptcy), the current structure for financing these benefits is no longer sustainable.
S.2616 has the support of bipartisan cosponsors including Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thad Cochran (R-MS). Senator Santorum is hopeful that bringing attention to this legislation now will help bolster more bipartisan support from other states.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator Santorum and Senator Specter, and Senators Rockefeller and Byrd from West Virginia for their diligent effort in supporting and leading the charge in introducing Senate bill 2616,” said Matt Miller, Special Assistant to the International Vice President of District II United Mine Workers of America, Ed Yankovich. “The Congress of these United States needs to pass this legislation as soon as possible and honor its commitment made by President Harry S. Truman in 1946, which guarantees lifetime health benefits to the retirees of the United Mine Workers of America.”
“Pennsylvania, more than any state in America, urgently needs Congress to enact the AML Program reauthorization bill that Senators Santorum and Specter are sponsoring,” said John Dawes, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Abandoned Mine Lands Campaign. “On behalf of hundreds of coalfield communities and watershed groups, I’d like to thank our Senators, because at a time when Congress was on a fast track to pass a bill that would have really hurt Pennsylvania, Senators Santorum and Specter persuaded Senate leadership to support a much better approach that will deliver more than a billion dollars in guaranteed minimum funding to Pennsylvania, so we can really get the worst of the abandoned mine damage cleaned up.”
Senator Santorum’s legislation brings together a unique cooperation between the Pennsylvania coal industry, coalfield communities, environmental conservation organizations and mine workers. Scott Roberts of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; John Dawes, Chairman of the Pennsylvania AML Campaign; Dennis McGrath, President/CEO of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Matt Miller, United Mine Workers Special Asst. to Vice President Ed Yankovich all offered remarks at the press conference in support of the legislation.
The following organizations have also expressed support for S.2616: Western PA Watershed Program; Western PA Conservancy; Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Alleghenies Watershed Network; The Community Foundation; Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation; Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned; Mine Reclamation; Audubon Society; Watershed Assistance Center; Mountain Watershed Association; Bio-Most; PA Association for Conservation Districts; Stream Restoration Inc.; Independence Marsh Foundation; Federation of PA Sportsmen; Allegheny Land Trust; The Stream Team; Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); United Mine Workers; PA Trout Unlimited; POWR–Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers; and Hedin Environmental.
Director of Communications
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture)
412-258-6683 (direct dial)
169 West Side Vo-Tech students’ mine project lauded 2006-05-30 16:51:43
Kids boost the educational programs on reclamation of mines, says group’s leader.
BY JANINE UNGVARSKY Times Leader Correspondent
PRINGLE — Metal shop students at the West Side Area Vocational-Technical School received recognition for their part in an innovative project to recycle iron oxide in mine water run off into chalk.
Robert E. Hughes, Regional Coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, presented a plaque to the students at the school’s joint operating committee meeting Monday.
He displayed the 20 cavity aluminum mold designed and crafted by the students and explained how it is filled with iron oxide recovered from mine runoff, plaster of Paris and water to create chalk as part of educational programs on mine reclamation and conservation. The mold was designed to etch the coalition’s acronym in each piece of chalk, so it serves as an advertisement for the nonprofit group, Hughes said. He called the metal shop students’ skills “invaluable” to the coalition’s educational efforts. …
168 Lawmakers try to solve mine-cleanup dilemma 2006-04-21 13:22:13
By MIKE FAHER
THE TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT (Johnstown, Pa.)
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. , When it comes to a long-standing debate about federal mine-cleanup money, Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators think they have a solution.
Others are not so sure.
Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pittsburgh, and Arlen Specter, R-Philadelphia, have introduced legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Abandoned Mine Land fund for 15 years.
The bill would increase Pennsylvania’s cleanup money to more than $1 billion during that time, nearly tripling annual allocations for a state that leads the nation in abandoned-mine problems.
“The bill ensures that reclamation fees collected from coal companies would be distributed to the states that have the most abandoned-mine sites,” Santorum spokesman Robert Traynham said.
In a statement, Specter said the bill “proposes a comprehensive reform of the AML program that will secure funding for abandoned-mine reclamation.”
It is clear that the legislation finally would lend some stability to a vital program that is in danger of expiring.
Conservationists have no problem with that, and they laud the senators for listening to their concerns. But they balk at some provisions, including one that would reduce coal-company fees that support the AML fund.
“There’s definitely plenty of room for improvement in the bill,” said Stephen Rogness of PennEnvironment, a Harrisburg, Pa., environmental advocacy group. “We should not be reducing the fees.”
There are no guarantees that the Specter-Santorum effort ultimately will provide the answer to the ongoing AML program debate. The bill could undergo modifications, or it may stall.
That is what happened last year to two competing proposals in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. John Peterson, a Republican based in Pennsylvania’s Venango County, wanted to steer more mine-cleanup money to states that need it most.
But U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyoming, argued that her state is owed more than $400 million from the fund. And she said Peterson’s bill unfairly penalized Wyoming, since mine operators there pay more AML fees than those in any other state.
While the two sides came close to a compromise in the fall, the deal fell apart.
*************************************** About the bill
The following are highlights of a U.S. Senate bill reauthorizing the Abandoned Mine Land Program, which collects money from coal companies and redistributes it for mine cleanup:
– Extends the fund for 15 years.
– Sends more than $1 billion in cleanup funds to Pennsylvania during 15 years.
– Maintains a provision mandating that 50 percent of fees collected from coal companies must return to the state where the money was generated.
– Taps into a federal mineral-leasing fund to supply the AML program with extra cash.
– Gradually decreases fees paid by coal companies. By 2012, those charges will fall from 35 cents to 28 cents for each ton of surface-mined coal and from 15 cents to 12 cents per ton for underground mines.
1015 N Front St Suite A
Harrisburg, PA 17102
167 Abandoned-mine discharge threatens trout stream 2006-04-21 13:07:32
By KIRK SWAUGER
CNHI News Service
FORWARDSTOWN, Gov. Ed Rendell has issued an emergency contract for the cleanup of an abandoned-mine discharge that threatens a high-quality trout stream near the Ferndale Sportsmen’s Club, Jenner Township.
Rendell ordered the bankrupt mining company responsible for the discharge to forfeit $388,000 in bonds. Yet, state officials concede, it is enough to treat the problem at the south fork of the Benscreek for only about 18 months.
“Local outdoor and watershed groups have sacrificed their time and energy to protect Benscreek and clean up the abandoned-mine problems that have plagued the Conemaugh and its tributaries,” Rendell said in a statement Tuesday.
“We cannot allow Lion Mining’s bankruptcy to destroy all this hard work.”
The state’s district mining office in Ebensburg has issued an emergency contract to Chemstream Inc. of Boswell to continue draining the mine pool and treating the discharge.
“The continuation of that system is a major factor to the health of the Benscreek and downstream into the Stonycreek,” said Len Lichvar, chairman of the Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project, commonly called SCRIP.
“If it’s not maintained in perpetuity, we will be looking at a serious water-quality issue in the Benscreek.”
Lion Mining operated the Grove No. 1 mine in Jenner Township for a decade before filing for bankruptcy protection in 1997.
Four years later, local residents notified the state Department of Environmental Protection about the orangish, highly acidic discharge into the creek.
State officials said an investigation determined Lion Mining and its subcontractors had allowed the mine pool to exceed the 1,700-foot elevation called for in the company’s mining permit.
In 2002, the state ordered the company to lower the elevation and begin treating the discharge. Lion Mining built a treatment facility that adds sodium hydroxide to neutralize the discharge and separate the iron in settling ponds.
But the state said the company completely abandoned the site at the end of last year, stopping all treatment and allowing the mine pool to rise once again.
“Our Cambria District Mining Office has moved quickly to provide continued treatment of the discharge and they are working to find a long-term solution that will maintain the recreational value of the Benscreek at no cost to the taxpayers,” DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty said in a statement.
The Grove No. 1 Mine portal is being reclaimed by Amfire Mining Inc. of Latrobe through a remining permit, state officials said. The permit allows the forfeited reclamation bond to be used to continue treatment.
Officials said the state is reviewing several potential long-term solutions, including arranging with the landowner, Outdoor Odyssey, to construct a larger treatment system and reissuing the remining permit to another coal company.
“That bond is going to take care of it for the short term, but they’re trying to find a long-term solution,” said state Rep. Bob Bastian, R-Somerset. He has been working with sportsmen’s groups on the issue for four years.
Lichvar said he is concerned the forfeited bonds will not be sufficient to maintain treatment beyond next year.
“The funding is a question mark,” he said.
Kirk Swauger can be reached at 445-5103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1999-2006 cnhi, inc.
A Jenner Township facility treats water discharged from an abandoned mine that was operated by Lion Mining until 1997, when the company filed for bankruptcy protection. John Rucosky The Tribune-Democrat
165 Don’t abandon mine cleanup efforts 2006-04-11 16:00:00
Sunday, April 09, 2006
BY JOHN DAWES
Spring has arrived, with brighter sunshine, trees in bud and crocuses and daffodils starting to bloom. Pennsylvania families are starting to throw off their coats and enjoy being outdoors.
But spring is also the beginning of the season of death and injury in Pennsylvania — thanks to our dangerous legacy of abandoned mines in 47 of the commonwealth’s 67 counties. Each year, children and adults fall from dangerous high walls, drown in pools of acid-contaminated water and tumble down exposed mine shafts, many of them full of toxic fumes.
It’s time to end this terrible legacy. And our congressional delegation holds the power to do it.
Right now, Pennsylvania cannot afford to be abandoned by our elected officials and the federal government. We can’t let that happen.
Pennsylvania’s natural resources and labor have fueled America from the industrial age to the present. The state’s citizens mined the coal and manufactured the steel, aluminum, glass and other products that made the rise of our nation as the global leader possible.
But those contributions — particularly from coal — also left an enormous problem. Too often, coal companies, which were unregulated until 1977, failed to clean up the pollution they caused or failed to provide for future problems caused by their work, simply leaving the damage behind. As a result, Pennsylvania is scarred with more abandoned mine sites than any other state.
These abandoned lands not only create hazardous and unsightly scars on our land; the pollution destroys many of our streams and rivers and prevents Pennsylvania from competing for 21st century jobs and investment.
The Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, an interest-accruing account held by the Office of Surface Mining of the U.S. Department of Interior, was created in 1977 to fund cleanup of these sites. Income to the fund comes from a fee on current coal operations, and the money is funneled back to coal mining states to support land recovery.
The fund expired in 2004, but operates under continuing resolutions. It’s time, though, to end the stopgap measures — permanent reauthorization of the fund and proper allocation of the money must happen immediately to protect Pennsylvania’s public health, environment and economy.
In 2004, then U.S. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton estimated that at least 35 deaths and 19 injuries at abandoned mine sites have occurred just in the anthracite mine region of Pennsylvanian over the past 30 years. Today, more than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians live within a mile of an abandoned mine land site. That’s far too many families with their lives at stake. We must clean up these sites as fast as possible.
Although Pennsylvania leads the nation in developing and implementing strategies to clean up abandoned mine lands, the enormity of the problem is staggering. And the problem is growing. In southwestern counties along the Monongahela River, orphaned mines are filling with highly polluted acid water, which will soon break out and discharge into the river and its tributaries. It will damage fishing, drinking water supplies and general water quality on the Monongahela to the Ohio River and beyond.
But despite the enormity of the problem, Congress has been slow to take action. In fact, some congressional proposals for reauthorization of the fund even call for a decrease in both the amount of money collected and the amount allocated to Pennsylvania. States with active coal mining but little legacy of problems are attempting to hijack the money and use it for other needs.
We must make securing the money a top priority; the health, environment and economy of Pennsylvanians are on the line. The fund must be reauthorized, with increases in both the collections generally and in the allocation to Pennsylvania specifically. It is only fair to Pennsylvania — and our contributions to the nation’s growth — to clean up our industrial legacy. And it just makes good sense that the money collected for cleanup should go to where there is a need for cleanup, regardless of where the money comes from.
It’s time for real leadership. Local municipalities and counties, public health and environmental leaders and economic development groups are all calling for Gov. Ed Rendell, U.S. Sens. Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter and our members of Congress to bring these vital cleanup funds home to the Keystone State. Our Congressional delegation must make reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund a top priority in this session of Congress.
We cannot let Pennsylvania be abandoned.
©2006 The Patriot-News
© 2006 PennLive.com All Rights Reserved.
164 Clinton Commissioners back increase in mine reclamation activity, funding 2006-04-11 16:09:12
By JIM RUNKLE – email@example.com
LOCK HAVEN , The Clinton County commissioners received the heartfelt thanks of a regional environmental group Thursday for their recent support of a resolution to increase fees on coal companies to feed future mine reclamation activities.
A spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Josh First, lauded the commissioners for their stand on the issue.
First said the refunding and reauthorization of the mine reclamation fund has become a yearly effort just to extend the act, mostly because the process has become mired in some hefty partisan politics.
First suggested a couple of strange bedfellows , the United Mineworkers Union and the coal companies , have tried to stifle any steps toward a more permanent solution.
He also lauded local U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pleasantville, with leading the charge at reauthorization, although he said the assemblyman has been focused on other issues, of late.
And he offered some kind words for Sen. Rick Santorum for acting as a bridge between the disparate groups struggling over the exact wording of the law.
“We learned yesterday at 4:30 p.m. that the Senate and House have granted a third extension of the current law, until June of 2007,” First said.
The collection of fees on mined coal are applied to the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which is has been extended twice before as a less controversial option than full reauthorization, First said.
“It’s been a political slugfest,” he added.
The comments were part of a presentation by EPCAMR representatives Michael Hewitt and Robert Hughes, who highlighted the benefits of a recently created, massive, statewide “Breaks the Code” computer database of mining information.
The information, compiled and correlated by EPCAMR from government documents, is designed to compare, contrasts and retain data on abandoned mines, cleanup activities, costs and priorities in Pennsylvania, allowing it to become a valuable tool for organizations concerned about issues like acid mine drainage and mine subsidence.
The ArcView-based database allows the information to be “layered” so that when specifically mapped sites are examined, information on that site is also accessed.
A file on a mine reclamation project in a specific community, for example, would allow the user to view the status of the site whether reclaimed or not reclaimed, financial reports on the costs of the cleanup, the priority value of a site and the physical characteristics of the site itself.
According to Hughes, the resulting maps give viewers an overhead look at the problems, accurately represents the current status of the project, and incorporates information gathered by state inspectors.
Abandoned mines are commonplace throughout Appalachia, particularly in states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia where the majority of America’s coal was mined throughout the industrial revolution and two world wars.
Under the current AML program, mine reclamation dollars are raised through a per-ton fee on coal and are allocated to states based on their current level of coal production.
That presents a problem, officials said. State’s like Wyoming which only recently began mining coal as the industry moved west have no abandoned mine problems, so that state uses the millions of dollars they receive from the AML program for construction, road paving and other miscellaneous projects.
At the same time, states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia are still decades away from completing reclamation work on thousands of hazardous abandoned coal mines, First said.
163 GOVERNOR RENDELL AWARDS $1.6 MILLION TO RECLAIM ABANDONED MINE IN LUZERNE COUNTY 2006-04-03 17:20:34
Project Will Seal Mine Entries, Eliminate Hazardous Cliffs
HARRISBURG — March 28, 2006 – Governor Edward G. Rendell today awarded $1.6 million to eliminate dangerous cliffs, seal mine entries and vegetate 128 acres of abandoned mine lands in Jenkins Township, Luzerne County.
“Coal has long been a cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s economy, but unregulated mining practices of the past have left our communities with large tracts of unstable land that endanger our residents and inhibit investment and economic development,” Governor Rendell said. “We need to work with business and local leaders to use available state and federal funding to heal these scars and create new opportunities for our former mining communities.”
The Jenkins Township site originally was an underground mine that was abandoned by an unknown operator in the early 1900s. Kaminski Brothers Coal Co. conducted extensive surface mining operations during the 1950s, creating several large pits, before abandoning the site prior to the passage of modern mining regulations in Pennsylvania.
The reclamation project involves grading and backfilling approximately 6,700 linear feet of dangerous highwall using 901,700 cubic yards of on-site material. The contractor also will fill seven vertical mine openings and construct rock-lined drainage ditches to control erosion and stormwater runoff from the site.
The entire 128-acre site will be planted with grasses formulated to grow on abandoned mine lands. Work will begin in late March and take one year to complete.
The $1.6 million reclamation contract was awarded to Russell Postupack Culm Corp. Inc. of McAdoo, Schuylkill County. Funding for the project comes from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is supported by a tax on every ton of coal mined by the active coal-mining industry.
“Mine reclamation not only eliminates serious public health and environmental risks, but it also makes communities more attractive for economic development,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said during a tour of the site with local officials.
“This is tremendously important for our commonwealth, and it promises to transform many of our coal communities into thriving commercial districts again,” McGinty said. “All of the work being done in this region demonstrates how working together can amplify efforts to address pressing environmental issues and revitalize local economies.”
The work site is adjacent to a recently completed 38-acre abandoned mine reclamation project on New Boston Road in Jenkins Township. That $364,777 project eliminated 780 linear feet of dangerous highwalls and three subsidence features, and sealed seven mine openings. Bat gates were installed on two remaining mine entries. In order to prepare the land for future economic development, the property owner, Mericle Inc., compacted backfill material in coordination with reclamation and grading operations.
Governor Rendell has been a leader in the fight to ensure that the U.S. Congress reauthorizes the federal mine reclamation fund and that the state secures its fair share. A reauthorization plan put before Congress last session would have increased Pennsylvania’s share to $35 million annually from $24 million per year. The fund, which would have expired at the end of September, has been extended to June 2006.
Pennsylvania has the largest abandoned mine lands problem in the country, with more than 180,000 acres of unmarked shafts, unstable cliffs, water-filled pits and abandoned equipment and explosives left over from when mining was largely unregulated prior to 1977.
Governor Rendell’s $625 million Growing Greener II initiative provides significant funding to address a vast array of environmental and public health problems at abandoned mine sites in Pennsylvania. The voter-approved program allocates $60 million to clean up rivers and streams affected by abandoned acid mine drainage and reclaim abandoned mine lands scarred by dangerous highwalls, mine openings and water-filled pits.
For more information on abandoned mine lands reclamation in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Web site at www.depweb.state.pa.us, Keyword: “Abandoned Mines.”
162 GOVERNOR AWARDS $5.4 MILLION TO RECLAIM ABANDONED MINE, ENCOURAGE ECONOMY 2006-04-03 17:17:44
Project Will Fill Pits, Eliminate Hazardous Cliffs Near School in Carbondale
HARRISBURG — March 29, 2006 – Governor Edward G. Rendell today awarded a $5.4 million contract to eliminate dangerous cliffs, fill large strip pits and vegetate 235 acres of abandoned mine lands in Carbondale, Lackawanna County. The work will remove public safety hazards, improve water quality and prepare the area for continued economic development.
“Abandoned mine lands endanger our children, pollute our rivers and place our former mining communities at a competitive disadvantage in today’s marketplace,” Governor Rendell said. “Pennsylvania is blessed with mineral resources that have helped to fuel America’s economy for more than 200 years. But that blessing can be a curse if we don’t work to reclaim these sites and give our communities the tools they need to attract new investments and create jobs.”
The Carbondale mine site had been operated as part of the Murrin and Powderly collieries since the 1800s. It was abandoned in the 1960s prior to passage of modern mining regulations. Mining activities left several large pits and 140-foot-high cliffs within 650 feet of the Carbondale elementary and high schools and several nearby residences.
Earthmovers Unlimited Inc. of Kylertown, Clearfield County, which received the reclamation contract through the Department of Environmental Protection, will grade and backfill 4,000 linear feet of dangerous highwall, and fill several abandoned strip pits using more than 4.3 million cubic yards of on-site mine spoil material.
The company will construct a 4,752-foot channel to control sediment and runoff that flows from the site into Fall Brook and the Lackawanna River. The contractor also will build two small ponds containing rock piles and root wad structures to provide wildlife habitat. Brush rows will be constructed along the northern boundary of the project for additional wildlife cover.
The entire 235-acre area will be planted with a mixture of grasses, legumes and tree seeds specially formulated to grow on abandoned mine lands. Work is expected to last two years.
Approximately 112 acres of this site are designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which promotes economic development in abandoned industrial areas by offering reduced, or eliminated, tax rates to business.
“In Pennsylvania, we are working to create a different reality, an approach that identifies environmental problems as economic opportunities in disguise,” DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty said while touring the site with local officials. “Where this once was seen only as a liability, new perspectives are taking hold.”
“More people are killed each year at abandoned mine sites than at all active mines in Pennsylvania,” McGinty said. “At Governor Rendell’s direction, we are seeking innovative ways to repair the damage left by the unregulated mining practices of the past and to turn these dangerous, abandoned mines into opportunities for community growth.”
Funding for the project comes from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is supported by a tax on every ton of coal mined by the active coal-mining industry.
Governor Rendell has been a leader in the fight to ensure that the U.S. Congress reauthorizes the federal mine reclamation fund and that the state secures its fair share. A reauthorization plan put before Congress last session would have increased Pennsylvania’s share to $35 million annually from $24 million per year. The fund, which would have expired at the end of September, has been extended to June 2006.
Pennsylvania has the largest abandoned mine lands problem in the country, with more than 180,000 acres of unmarked shafts, unstable cliffs, water-filled pits and abandoned equipment and explosives left over from when mining was largely unregulated prior to 1977.
Governor Rendell’s $625 million Growing Greener II initiative provides significant funding to address a vast array of environmental and public health problems at abandoned mine sites in Pennsylvania. The voter-approved program allocates $60 million to clean up rivers and streams affected by abandoned acid mine drainage and reclaim abandoned mine lands scarred by dangerous highwalls, mine openings and water-filled pits.
For more information on abandoned mine reclamation, visit the department’s Web site at www.depweb.state.pa.us, Keyword: “Abandoned Mines.”
161 GOVERNOR RENDELL SAYS COAL IS A SIGNIFICANT PIECE OF PA’S CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE 2006-04-03 17:10:54
N E W S R E L E A S E COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (717) 787-1323[b]Governor Continues Push for Measures to Enhance Mine Safety [/b]
BURGETTSTOWN, Washington County — Governor Edward G. Rendell’s energy initiatives are making Pennsylvania a leader in advancing clean coal technologies that put to use the state’s indigenous resources to spur investments, create jobs and improve the environment.
Addressing some 800 members of Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy, or FORCE, in Washington County, Governor Rendell urged passage of his legislation to protect miners, modernize Pennsylvania’s mine safety laws and keep pace with a rapidly changing industry.
“Mining has been a cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s economy for 250 years, and I believe our best days are still to come,” Governor Rendell said.
“America’s energy past is grounded right here in Pennsylvania, where our coal and our miners helped to fuel an industrial revolution. The country’s energy future is right here, too,” Governor Rendell said. “We have the resources, the manpower and the ingenuity to both strengthen our economy and change the way our country produces fuel and thinks about energy.”
The Governor has launched some major initiatives to build a clean energy future in Pennsylvania, putting in place the policies and financial incentives needed to develop the state’s homegrown resources, especially coal.
Pennsylvania is home to one of the nation’s most progressive alternative energy portfolio standards, ensuring that 18 percent of all energy generated by 2020 comes from clean, efficient and advanced resources — not just traditional renewables but also coal mine methane, waste coal and coal gasification.
The nation’s first coal gasification-liquefaction plant is proposed for construction in Schuylkill County, where the plant will use waste coal to produce 40 millions of clean-burning diesel fuel each year. Construction of Waste Management and Processors Inc.’s waste-coal-to-diesel plant will create as many as 1,000 jobs; operating the plant will produce another 600 permanent, high-paying positions. The plant will clean up tens of millions of tons of waste coal while giving the state clean diesel at a fraction of the price paid today.
Pennsylvania has the largest abandoned mine lands problem in the country, with 8,529 acres of unreclaimed refuse piles and 2.1 billion tons of waste coal that impair rivers and streams with polluted runoff. There are few uses for waste coal except electricity generation, and there simply are not enough available resources to address this multi-billion dollar problem.
Governor Rendell is magnifying state investments to turn this $15 billion abandoned mine challenge into an economic opportunity. State-of-the-art waste coal power plants are helping to power the economy by putting to use an energy source that otherwise would be a threat to the environment and a hazard to public health.
With encouragement and support from the state, coal mine methane is being captured and used for fuel rather than simply being vented into the air and wasted. Not only are projects like this a boon to the environment, but with record-high natural gas prices, this new fuel source benefits the economy as well.
“Our commonwealth has a rich mining history,” Governor Rendell said. “And while our mines are among the safest in the world with consistently high production, we want to make sure they remain safe.”
Since taking office, Governor Rendell has ushered in a series of changes to enhance mine safety in Pennsylvania. Changes include revising mine permitting and inspection procedures so the Department of Environmental Protection’s mine safety experts have a direct role, putting in place stringent requirements for verification of underground mine maps and revising training protocols for mine safety personnel.
Despite these improvements, legislative changes are still needed. The commonwealth’s deep mine safety law was written in 1889 and last updated in 1961. Governor Rendell first unveiled his legislative package in July 2004, proposing some of the most significant changes in decades. Among the proposals:
“¢ Make the mine owner or operator primarily responsible for safety compliance at the mine, and allow DEP to assess fines and penalties for noncompliance. Currently, only individual certified employees or supervisors, such as foremen, can be held responsible for an accident, not the mine company or its executives.
“¢ Create a three-member Mine Safety Board with the authority to promulgate regulations to keep pace with mine safety technology. The board could act quickly to put in place necessary improvements and precautionary measures to keep miners safe as the industry continues to advance.
“¢ Eliminate obsolete language in Pennsylvania’s mine safety statutes to remove references to animals and stables in mines, and references about transporting miners into the mines on conveyer belts, among other outdated provisions.
“¢ Increase to 500 feet from 200 feet the distance from which a bituminous underground operator must conduct advanced drilling when approaching an adjacent mine that may contain water or gas. (This has been instituted administratively as well.)
After the West Virgnia accidents, the Governor expanded his proposal by adding new provisions that aim to protect miners in the event of an accident and assist the rescuers trying to reach them.
Mines would need an approved escape plan that prompts faster emergency response, requires stockpiled oxygen and seeks better communications to better track underground miners. The plan incorporates the installation of “lifelines” that miners can grab and use as a guide to safety if they are ever trapped in an area that fills with smoke or debris, as well as the location of safe places in the mines for workers to seek refuge in case escape routes are blocked.
In February, Governor Rendell ordered DEP’s Bureau of Mine Safety to re-inspect the state’s active underground mines. The enhanced inspections took place on top of all normal activities. The Governor’s proposed 2006-07 General Fund budget includes $508,000 for underground mine safety and enhanced inspection initiatives.
FORCE was created in 2002 by families, businesses and communities to support and retain coal-related jobs in Pennsylvania; network all coal-related businesses; give supporters of coal a voice; and make members aware of coal’s impact on the state’s economy. FORCE has 86 member companies representing more than 11,000 people.
The coal economy is made up of utility plants, fuel suppliers, equipment suppliers, legal professionals, accountants, machinists, transportation companies, chemical suppliers, engineering companies, construction facilities and coal companies.
Pennsylvania has more than 27 billion tons of proven coal reserves that will last for another 300 years at current mining production rates. The commonwealth is the fourth largest coal-producing state, generating more than 70 million tons of coal annually and employing thousands of people in mining and related industries.
For more information on mining, visit DEP’s Web site at www.depweb.state.pa.us, Keyword: “Active Mining Operations.”
Friday, March 31, 2006
BY BRETT LIEBERMAN
WASHINGTON – A Pennsylvania program that encourages “good Samaritans” to clean abandoned mine sites was lauded as a model effort, but supporters of such efforts told lawmakers that a lack of money and federal laws are the largest impediments to cleaning up more than half a million polluted sites nationally.
The lack of funding, primarily from the federal government, has plagued the cleanup of abandoned mine sites and polluter watersheds for decades, advocates said.
Pennsylvania is estimated to need $15 billion to clean up abandoned mines and waterways on at least 200,000 acres that are within one mile of an abandoned mine site.
“Few of these old mine sites are getting cleaned up,” U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., said yesterday during a transportation subcommittee hearing on impediments to efforts to encourage more groups such as Trout Unlimited. The group is working to restore parts of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Concerns about legal liability and Clean Water Act requirements stymie efforts to encourage voluntary clean up of mine lands by watershed groups, other good Samaritans and the mining industry, witnesses told the panel.
“Mine operators and citizens alike would not tackle sites that had polluted mine discharges because state and federal law imposed strict liability on them,” Joseph G. Pizarchik, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s mining and reclamation bureau, testified.
Pennsylvania has had limited success working with volunteers and watershed groups to reclaim 20,100 acres with state programs that saved $1.1 billion, “money the state and federal government did not have to spend to reclaim these abandoned mine lands,” Pizarchik said.
But many watershed groups were reluctant to take on projects for fear that they would be responsible for future runoffs of polluted water, Pizarchik said.
DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have not sued volunteer groups that do not fully clean up mine sites. Yet groups worry they could face civil lawsuits from private citizens if sites are not fully cleaned up or if there are future problems, he said.
The Clean Water Act, for example, allows for zero discharges of polluted water, and mine operators, which groups working on remediation may be considered, could face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for discharges.
Pennsylvania stepped up its efforts to clean up polluted sites with the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Plan in 1983 and 1999’s Environment Good Samaritan Act, which offered some liability protection to volunteers and $650 million through the Growing Greener state bond initiative.
“They are doing work that helps the government and helps the country,” Pizarchik said in an interview.
Lawmakers said they are hopeful that drawing more attention to the issue will lead to legislative action, but no legislation has been proposed. Duncan said committee staff continue to debate issues such as whether legislation is necessary, defining who may be a Samaritan, cleanup standards and how the program should be administered and funded.
BRETT LIEBERMAN: (202) 383-7833 or firstname.lastname@example.org
©2006 The Patriot-News
© 2006 PennLive.com All Rights Reserved.
159 New weapon to wage war on mining’s leftovers 2006-03-23 15:44:03
A regional abandoned-mine reclamation group has created a powerful new tool for mapping mine-scarred lands in affected municipalities.
The Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System can pinpoint waterways plagued by acid mine drainage and areas , down to the street and house level , potentially prone to mine subsidence. Its creators believe the information can aid elected officials and conservation groups in targeting cleanup projects and funding.
But the expansive program may also help keep mine reclamation moving all together. The federal fund that doles out money for mine-reclamation projects expires June 30. Stakeholders say this highly detailed system can help illustrate just how much cleanup work is left to do.
“If we can convince these folks that are in charge of making things happen … it might put the light bulb on for them,” said Robert Hughes, regional coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. “We’re trying to say, “˜Here, we’ll show you how to allocate that funding over time.’?”[b]A data treasure trove[/b]
The Geographic Information System modeling program uses state and federal data to create interactive maps, which can show a host of features, including mine discharge points, backfilled stripping pits and reclaimed mine shafts. Representatives from the nonprofit coalition are taking the technology on the road to municipal officials throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, giving many a new perspective on what’s within , and often below , their boundaries. [b]More than mine land. Don’t let the name fool you.[/b]
The Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System gives detailed, interactive images of a community’s mine-scarred lands. But its layers of data hold much more information and potential, according to its creators at the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
The Geographic Information System modeling program can produce high-tech maps for dozens of municipal needs. It simply depends on what you input.
The system can document sewer systems and combined sewer overflow points for an entire watershed. Elected officials can input tax and income figures to examine their base. Planning commissions can use the maps as a tool for land-use planning, storm-water and floodplain management and a host of other development-related issues.
“We have so much information, you have to pick and choose,” said coalition regional coordinator Robert Hughes.
The coalition is offering to produce up to three free maps for municipalities with mining impacts. One will document abandoned mine lands, but the makeup of the other two is up to elected officials, based on available data. The coalition will hold another information session March 15 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Archbald Borough building. To contact EPCAMR, call Rob Lavelle at 674-3409.
Old Forge borough played host last week to the program’s first display in Lackawanna County. Council President Tony Pero, one of the few regional officials who popped in for the two-hour session, got a detailed look at mine shafts, impaired creeks and culm piles throughout the borough.
“We don’t have anything that looks like this; I’m pretty impressed,” said Mr. Pero. “Looking at the big picture, I think it helps a lot.”
Mr. Hughes said the information can help municipalities prioritize their cleanup needs, as well as give state and federal officials concrete evidence of possible health and safety hazards. “That’s a priority for these communities,” said Mr. Hughes.[b]Funding is a key[/b]
The federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund is maintained by the Office of Surface Mining. Today’s coal-mine operators feed money into the interest-accruing account through a per-ton fee. Legislation governing the fund expired several years ago, but has been extended year to year.
Environmental groups are pushing for a full reauthorization of the law, which would guarantee the flow of funds in and out of the federal pot. About 1.4 million Pennsylvanians live within two miles of abandoned mine sites, said Brian Hill, chief executive officer for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
Contact the writer: email@example.com
©The Times-Tribune 2006
158 AMD Conference Planning Committee Gearing up for 2006 Conference 2006-02-27 15:29:17
The theme will be “Back to Basics” and we want to focus back on building capacity for watershed groups in PA working on Abandoned Mine Land issues. [u]We need your help to decide if there should be 2 regional conferences in Pennsylvania?[/u] We are thinking about having separate Anthracite Region (Eastern PA) and Bituminous Region (Western PA) Conferences. What do you think? Please let us know by voting in [b]”Going With the Flow”[/b] on the homepage. Some things to think about (Positives and Negatives):
Watershed groups would incur less of an expense associated with travel.
We may not be able to afford scholarships this year.
Presenters at the conference may have “double duty”.
Central conference location ( State College) tends to be very expensive.
Holding the conference in late summer / early fall would conflict with college football season.
Please stay tuned for updates on the conference. We will let you know at the Pennsylvania State-wide AMD Conference Information Page
157 Environmental group EPCAMR speaks at Tamaqua Area High School 2006-02-24 17:42:20
By JOE PLASKO / TIMES NEWS
Robert E. Hughes, Regional Coordinator for the Eastern Pa. Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) displays a map of reclamation projects along the Upper Schuylkill watershed during a presentation at Tamaqua Area High School Friday.
With the long history of Anthracite coal mining in this region, metal-filled water discharged from those mines are a daily part of life.
Metallic discharges are an environmental hazard that organizations such as the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) work toward alleviating, through their own efforts and partnerships with municipalities and government agencies.
Another function of EPCAMR, which is based in Luzerne County and covers a 16-county region, is environmental education, such as the presentation it gave Friday at Tamaqua Area High School.
Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Regional Coordinator, and Pamela J. Kattner, Jim Thorpe, an environmental education intern, spoke about the problems of acid mine drainage to the ecology and chemistry classes of Kristen Klingaman.
There’s a connection there. Klingaman served as an EPCAMR intern for Hughes in 1999. “I wanted you all to hear this, because I feel it is important,” she told her students.
There are many abandoned mine reclamation sites in the Tamaqua area. Not too far from the school on Route 209 in Walker Township is the Newkirk Tunnel, a reclamation project in which the acidic water discharge is treated with an oxic limestone drain.
The Newkirk Tunnel featured an orange colored discharge due to the iron in the water, which became acidic by running through the mine. Other discharges can also contain magnesium and aluminum, which has a tint of white or gray, said Kattner.
“The discharge creates a harsh environment for fish and other invertebrates and impairs the health of the watershed,” explained Kattner.
Because of the metallic content, acid mine discharges can also contain sulfuric acid, which has a distinctive odor.
The Upper Schuylkill watershed, which includes 123 miles of streams, is only one of the areas with which EPCAMR is concerned. Hughes also discussed the Catawissa Creek watershed, which runs from Hazleton along Route 81 to Elysburg, covering 36 miles and running into the Susquehanna River.
Kattner said there are three methods of treating acid mine drainage: active, passive and backfilling.
Active treatments mean the addition of chemicals. Passive treatments include using limestone to reduce the acidity of the water and restore its alkalinity, or using available wetlands to remove metals from the discharge.
“We try to remove the metals from the streams and re-use them,” said Hughes, who noted those metals can be used in the production of tie-dyes for T-shirts and woodstains for paint companies.
Some examples of passive treatments provided were the Audenreid Mine Tunnel on the Catawissa Creek, which uses concrete storage tanks of limestone to split the water and treat it, and the Lausanne Tunnel near Jim Thorpe, which utilizes wetlands, said Kattner.
Backfilling reclamation involves filling old strip-mine pits to prevent oxygen from reaching metals exposed through the mining process. In those cases, the pit is filled and covered with top soil and vegetation.
Hughes and Kattner urged the students to get involved by joining environmental groups, reading and writing articles on acid mine drainage and learning all they can on the subject.
For more information, visit the EPCAMR website at www.orangewaternetwork.org.
156 Free Municipal Planning Code Workshop coming to Luzerne County 2006-02-17 14:37:57[b]LOOK BEYOND THE FIELD YOU ARE STANDING IN:
THE MUNICIPAL PLANNING CODE AND IT’S IMPACT ON YOU[/b] [b]FRIDAY, MARCH 24TH[/b] at the Best Western East Mountain Inn & Suites, Wilkes Barre, PA
Help for Conservation District, NRCS, and Extension personnel to learn about the Municipal Planning Code, Zoning, Comprehensive Plans, Subdivision and Land Development Plans, and Stormwater. Also, increase understanding of the regulations that municipalities uphold to help clients such as farmers, engineers, and landowners when installing BMPs or completing E&S controls. County Planning Commissions, County Commissioners, and Legislators are also welcome!
Overview of the Municipal Planning Code , Take a tour of what is in the Municipal Planning Code and how it is used by townships.
Presented by: The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services
Comprehensive Planning , A discussion on planning for development, industry, agriculture, infrastructure, etc., and how planning can mold a township and accomplish goals.
Presented by: Ronald Beam, Vice President of Rettew Associates, Assoc. Director on the Lancaster County Conservation District Board
11:30 A.M. , Lunch
Zoning, Subdivision and Land Use Ordinances, and Stormwater , How do conservation practices and programs interrelate. How to assist townships with development of an ordinance. What is a 2nd class township and how are they governed? Where does nutrient trading, water resources planning and critical aquifer recharge areas enter into the picture?
Presented by: James Caldwell, Project Manager of Civil/Municipal Services at Rettew Associates. Formerly with the Lancaster Co. CD
Outreach Efforts with Local Municipal Officials, Monroe County Conservation District has been very involved in working with municipal officials to accomplish many conservation related goals including Monroe County 2020- a comprehensive planning effort, Act 167 Stormwater Management planning, and ordinance development.
Presented by: Craig Todd, District Manager of the Monroe County Conservation District
2:30-2:45 P.M. , Questions and Wrap-up[b]*** The training session is free of charge, but please RSVP with the Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council at (570) 282-8732 ext.4 or firstname.lastname@example.org no later than March 15th.[/b]
Coordination provided by the PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program and the Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council.
Funding provided by the PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program
155 Wyoming sets coal output record as prices rise 2006-01-23 16:26:46
GILLETTE – Despite logistics problems last year, it appears Wyoming continues to produce record amounts of coal, which is the subject of increasing national demand and fetching strong prices.
Although unofficial, Wyoming produced a conservative estimate of 405.4 million tons in 2005, according to the Casper Star-Tribune’s annual survey of coal production. Coal industry analysts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration estimate the actual figure for 2005 is about 407.2 million tons, with the additional tonnage coming from Powder River Basin operations.
An estimated 2.4 percent increase in coal production from 2004 would translate into good economic news for a state that receives most of its revenues from minerals. Severance taxes, federal mineral royalties and coal lease bonus bid payments from the coal industry in 2005 well exceeded $600 million, according to the state’s economic analysis division.
That does not include sales and use taxes, secondary business or the more than $600 million in annual payroll for the industry’s 4,600 employees.
“Coal is the core of northeast Wyoming,” said Buck McVeigh, administrator of Wyoming’s economic analysis division. “Natural gas and oil, in their heydays, were the most significant players. But coal has always been a steady revenue generator.”
Last year also saw a dramatic price increase in Wyoming coal.
“It’s just amazing what’s going on in the industry right now. I don’t think it’s fully appreciated how much utilities are willing to pay for coal right now,” said Paul Klibanow, a coal industry analyst for the New York investment firm Force Capital Management.
At the beginning of 2005, producers in the Powder River Basin were getting about $7 per ton for some of their coal under contract, compared with the $5-per-ton range in previous years.
But a combination of coal train derailments, disruption in natural gas supplies on the Gulf Coast and skyrocketing prices for emission credits all worked together in 2005 to jolt coal prices upward.
Now, spot market prices for Powder River Basin coal of 8,800 British thermal units is $22 per ton. Typically, higher spot prices are paid for about 15 percent of a mine’s production, because about 85 percent is under contract at the lower rate.
Many utilities are trying to get as much Powder River Basin coal as possible because of emission rules, Klibanow said.
In addition, since the derailments prevented basin producers from meeting all the increased customer demand in 2005, utility inventories are at record lows, and they are desperately trying to replenish their coal stockpiles.
Under those circumstances, utilities are signing new multiyear contracts for $25 per ton in the Powder River Basin.
“The risks to the utility customer of having to burn natural gas as an alternative is a losing proposition, so they’ll pay whatever they have to to get the coal,” Klibanow said. “Those companies are going to make a lot of money.”
Greg Schaefer, spokesman for Arch Coal Inc., stressed that $25-per-ton contracts are not the norm. The majority of Wyoming’s 400-plus million tons of coal sells for lower prices under contract.
The Wyoming Geological Survey reported that the overall average price for a ton of Wyoming coal was $6.80 in 2003 and $6.88 in 2004. The average selling price in 2005 isn’t available yet.
Dan Neal, director of the Equality State Policy Center, said his organization plans to suggest a “modest” increase of the 7.5 percent severance tax on coal at every opportunity.
“We feel like the state should be charging more for this great resource,” Neal said. “There’s only one chance to tax this stuff. It’s an obligation to the generations that follow us, and right now we are failing to recognize that. We’d argue this is a moral question.”
154 IUP to digitize state’s mine maps, create online database 2006-01-23 16:09:31
Friday, January 20, 2006
By Moustafa Ayad, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety and Indiana University of Pennsylvania have created a partnership to digitally map thousands of mines across Pennsylvania.
Using a $125,000 digital camera donated by the mine agency, IUP libraries will scan and then digitize the large-format maps to create a statewide database available to businesses, local officials and the public.
The project is aimed at improving miner safety and assisting communities planning construction or renovation projects to ensure underground stability.
“We will be able to provide digital images of maps that are too large for standard scanning equipment,” said Joe Sbaffoni, director of the Bureau of Deep Mine Safety. “The preservation of these mine maps will improve mine safety and will preserve a valuable mapping resource for future generations.”
The partnership, which has been under development for two years, will use the agency’s current mine maps. IUP will categorize, store and digitize a vast number of maps to eventually place them online.
The university also will convert 400 maps already in its archives into digital versions. School officials said the conversion could take up to two years.
The university also announced a gift and a grant it received to help with the man-hours needed to complete the project. The $36,777 gift was from Rosebud Mining Co. of Kittanning. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission gave $15,000.
“I applaud IUP for taking this step to bring new technology here to improve the quality and safety of mining in Pennsylvania,” said state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana.
153 EPCAMR Staff “Breaks the Code” to PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Database 2006-01-12 14:11:26
Contact: Michael Hewitt, EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Coordinator , (570) 674-3414
Thursday, January 12, 2006 , Shavertown, PA
EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Coordinator, Michael Hewitt, presented an accounting of reclaimed abandoned mine sites in Pennsylvania to officials in the PA Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (PA DEP BAMR) on Tuesday afternoon as
a part of the PA Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund Reauthorization Committee presentation. Hewitt’s part of the presentation consisted of a live interactive map and database of which he and EPCAMR GIS Technicial, Rob Lavelle, had recently been able to incorporate PA DEP BAMR’s reclaimed sites data table and offer a new perspective of the current status of AML Reclamation in Pennsylvania. “This information is not new, it has always been a part of the DEP’s database,” Hewitt adds, “however, the presentation combines that information and displays it in a map that is easily understood by anyone.”
The PA DEP BAMR maintains a database of Abandoned Mine Land Impacts in Pennsylvania. The database, aptly named the Abandoned Mine Land Information System (AMLIS), encompasses an inventory including mine portals, vertical openings, mine drainage seeps, dangerous highwalls from strip mining, water filled stripping pits, culm banks, landslides, underground mine fires, stream impoundments, and subsidence features just to name a few. This information is gathered by state inspectors who transfer the information directly into the central database via an online feed to Harrisburg. The database is then sent to the Office of Surface Mining, an office of the federal Department of the Interior, which gives a priority value to the features and distributes funding for reclamation through the Abandoned Mine Trust Fund, a pot of money created by a tax placed on coal removed from the ground by the federal Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977.
The information in the AMLIS Database is organized into three separate but integrated tables which are then interpreted into a map form using a Geographic Information System (GIS) such as ArcView. EPCAMR Staff were tasked to work on this project through the Non-Point Source Liaison Committee to the PA DEP. The resulting maps give viewers an overhead look at the problems and aide in planning to reclaim these features. “We now have an idea of where we are and where we need to go as far as reclamation in Pennsylvania,” Hewitt explains. DEP Officials agree that it accurately represents the current status of their projects; however this database does not take into account reclamation projects that were done by other entities. An effort is being made to incorporate re-mining projects managed by the PA DEP District Mining Offices into the database as well as projects completed by redevelopment authorities, cogeneration facilities, other federal, state and county programs and watershed groups through funding such as Growing Greener, EPCAMR’s Regional Watershed Support Initiative, OSM’s Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative and other funding sources. “It will be a challenge to incorporate these other reclamation projects into the database,” Hewitt says, “but it can be done.”
The Office of Surface Mining also has a new GIS database out which shows about 280 Mine Drainage Treatment Systems throughout Pennsylvania. This database also has a water chemistry improvement portion which shows the parameters going into the system and those coming out of the system. “The database is still a work in progress with treatment systems that still need to be added and water quality information to be included, but the information housed in it will prove helpful in meeting new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards being placed on AMD impacted streams,” Hewitt remarks. “This new information combined with 303(d) Listed Waters (polluted streams information from the PA DEP Bureau of Watershed Management) and other GIS layers can really prove helpful in painting a picture of the need for increased funding for reclamation projects in PA.”
152 AML Trust Fund ReauthorizationPerspective from Montana 2006-01-03 12:12:51
Cleanup cash drying up
By SONJA LEE
Tribune Staff Writer
The decline of mining, refining and railroading in the second half of the 20th Century left Montana wanting for good jobs , and facing the dirty remains of those former industries.
High-paying mining and smelting jobs aren’t likely to return, at least not in any large numbers. In their wake, however, are new jobs for the folks cleaning up the tainted waters, soils and communities.
But even as environmental cleanups pump money into Montana’s economy and create thousands of jobs, the federal money that seeds some of those projects is threatened.
Two federal funding sources in particular are dwindling.
The program that funds the cleanup of abandoned mines expires next year. And the trust fund that paid for federal Superfund cleanups is depleted, with taxpayers now picking up the reclamation tab.
Together those funding sources pour millions of dollars into Montana each year.
The national abandoned mines program is paid for with a fee on mined coal.
In Montana, the tax generates $13 million a year. Of that, about $3.5 million is appropriated for cleanup work.
The remainder of the money is divvied up among a trust fund, eastern states and the United Mine Workers Combined Benefit fund.
Montana’s share is used to clean up some of the highest risk abandoned coal and hard rock mines. The state Department of Environmental Quality estimates that it pays about 90 percent of its annual abandoned-mine appropriations to private contractors.
That money, however, is in jeopardy. A sunset provision in the fund’s authorization takes effect in June 2006.
In the Congressional back-and-forth over reauthorization, eastern states are attempting to divert more of the money to coal-mine reclamation in their areas, according to Vic Andersen, chief of the mine waste cleanup bureau within the DEQ. There also are a number of other competing interests such as the coal industry and the United Mine Workers.
There is concern that Montana could lose a great deal of money if the fee is not reauthorized or if the distribution of funds changes.
“Western states are going to have to be ever vigilant,” Andersen said.
Those in the industry agree.
Joe Aline, project manager for Shumaker Trucking, said abandoned mine cleanups are a big chunk of the company’s workload each year. Since the early ’80s, Shumaker has completed 51 reclamation projects.
“That abandoned mines money comes back to Montana, and it gets the cleanups done,” he said.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer wrote to Montana’s congressional delegation urging them to support legislation reauthorizing the program and protecting the West’s share of the money. Schweitzer wants annual grants to the state maintained at a level equivalent to 50 percent of the fees collected here.
Meanwhile the federal Superfund program grapples with its own problems.
The 1980 Superfund law says polluting businesses must pay to clean up their own environmental messes. When companies go bankrupt or the polluters can’t be pinpointed, a trust fund is in place to take care of the costs. It is financed by a tax on industries dealing in petroleum and other hazardous chemicals typically found on polluted sites.
The tax expired in 1995 and Congress has yet to renew it. For the last few years, the Superfund Trust Fund has been virtually bankrupt.
In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general reported that the $3 billion program was staring at a funding shortfall of $175 million annually.
Congress now funds cleanups with money from the general budget. That means taxpayers get stuck with any bills not paid for by the polluters. It also means the pace of cleanups and funding for cleanups is declining.
“It’s been 100 percent on the taxpayers,” said Anne Rabe, campaign coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “Because of a reduction in the appropriations, there also is a reduction in the money for the Superfund.”
Dollars spent on Superfund cleanups declined 35 percent , or about $600 million , since 1993, Rabe said.
In 2004, the EPA released a list showing projects that could not be funded. Included on that list was some work at the Upper Tenmile Creek Superfund site southwest of Helena.
“That was one of 14 that didn’t receive funding in fiscal year 2004,” Rabe said.
More than $10 million has been spent at Upper Tenmile. That’s about a third of the money needed for excavation and disposal of the site’s remaining waste.
Completion of federal Superfund cleanups declined to 40 sites a year during the past two years, according to the EPA. During the Clinton administration, the EPA completed an average of 76 cleanups a year. Officials say the increasing size and complexity of cleanups is one reason that fewer are being done.
The Bush administration opposes resumption of the Superfund taxes, and congressional attempts to reinstate the fees have failed.
In the last session, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., cosponsored one such attempt , the “Toxic Clean-Up Polluter Pays Renewable Act” , but it didn’t pass.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, and several others continue pushing for similar legislation, and Baucus is co-sponsoring it again.
“Max is one of the fathers of the Superfund program,” said Barrett Kaiser, a spokesman for Baucus.
The EPA estimates it will take up to 35 years and $280 billion to clean of the nation’s existing and potential hazardous waste sites. Since the program began in 1980, more than 900 toxic messes have been cleaned up, but more than 1,200 still need attention.
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Sonja Lee at email@example.com, or at (406) 791-1471 or (800) 438-6600.
Originally published December 27, 2005
151 The Top 10 Online Resources for Grantwriters 2006-01-03 11:59:19
By Matt Scelza
I began, like most grantwriters, as a program coordinator. I had an idea for a new program that would serve a community need, and there was no one else on staff to write the grant. Suddenly, I was a grantwriter. I didn’t know where to begin, and my Internet searches returned a blizzard of information. Knowing that the situation hasn’t changed much in the past nine years, I humbly offer this collection of the Top 10 online resources for grantwriters.[hr]
If you know the foundation you’d like to research, start with GuideStar. This collection of information about tens of thousands of foundations and nonprofits offers the most recent 990 tax returns for all 501(c)(3)s for free. Foundations are considered 501(c)(3)s, so you can read the list of grantees for any foundation.
Of course, you can only read what you know to look for. GuideStar offers research packages at three levels, but I don’t recommend them for two reasons. First, the packages aim to help foundations and donors research nonprofits. A grantwriter wants the opposite focus. Second, the cost is higher than on The Foundation Directory.[b]The Foundation Directory Online[/b]
I recommend a subscription to The Foundation Directory Online. There are four subscription levels, starting at $19.99 per month. Besides the focus on providing foundation information, FD Online has a more intuitive, easier-to-use layout. For most grantwriters, one of the $19.99 or $29.99 packages will suffice. One helpful feature of FD Online is the ability to search by trustee name. If you have a name, you can learn on which foundations this person serves.[b]A Proposal Writing Short Course[/b]
While it’s really a “presentation with arrows,” this site provides the clearest explanation I’ve found of the basic components of a grant. If you’re as new to grantwriting as I was, this site will save many hours of frustration.[b]Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance[/b]
This website offers access to a database of all federal funding programs available. You can read the full application and learn who to contact with any questions.
The best part of the site is the free notification service. You select the federal departments and/or agencies for which you’d like email updates. Starting the next day, you’ll get a daily email with any grant opportunities that fit your criteria. This is a great way to let your tax dollars do your research for you.[b]Grants.gov[/b]
Just as the above are good sources for private funding, grants.gov is the portal for finding federal opportunities. Plus, if you’re going to submit a grant to the federal government, you’re required to register your organization with egrants.gov. It’s not as seamless as it should be, but since it’s required, you might as well complete the process.
The Michigan State University Library system has created this collection of 519 listings on all things grant-related. I have it on my bookmarks page on my Internet browser, and often scroll through to find something interesting. I do mean “scroll” — there is no search function, and 519 listings are a lot to move through. There also are several specialized lists for educators, religious fundraising, and academic fundraising.[b]Don Griesmann’s Grant Opportunities[/b]
This is another CharityChannel feature, and another way to let other people do your research for you. Good Samaritan Griesmann offers a weekly list of approximately 25 funding sources, with one paragraph summaries of each funder’s guidelines and a link to the website.
The e-newsletter is free, and worth reading for Kim Klein’s “Ask Kim” column. Klein offers insights into fundraising that all development professionals, no matter how small their goals, will find useful.
CharityChannel offers numerous lists that serve the original purpose of the Internet — unfiltered sharing of information. Well, actually, the lists are even better than that — commercial postings are filtered out, and you receive direct access to thousands of other development professionals across the country and world.
This site will be very useful in the years to come. Capaciteria relies upon peer ratings to rank nonprofit resources in a variety of categories, including “Fund Raising, Grants Management & Philanthropy.” Free registration is required, and as more users enter more reviews of resources, the site will grow in usefulness.[hr]
The list is far from exhaustive, and there are many other deserving sites. It was created for the rookies who are in the same situation I was in nine years ago. If you know any new grantwriters, do them a favor and send them your own version of this list. No site can write a grant for you, but these 10 sites will make anyone’s grantwriting easier.
Copyright © 2005 [Matt Scelza]. All rights reserved.
This article is reprinted with permission from CharityChannel.com and the author of this article. The author holds the copyright to the article. To receive the entire issue by email each week, visit http://charitychannel.com/enewsletters and use the subscription form. To seek permission for reprints, visit http://charitychannel.com/enewsletters/reprints. For more information, contact CharityChannel at http://charitychannel.com/rapid-reply.
As a teen rafting the Youghiogheny River in the 1970s, Stahlstown native Tom Rathbun saw a burnt-orange waterway devoid of any plant or animal life.
“There was nothing there, and there was nothing on Loyalhanna Creek, either,” said Rathbun, 48. “It was all affected by acid mine drainage in the area.”
At the time, Rathbun said, most people were resigned to living near such pollution.
“Everyone said there’s nothing you can do about it,” Rathbun said. “Now people are finding out you can.”
Today, a Yough river basin teeming with fish, birds and plants is testimony to proactive steps taken to address environmental issues linked to abandoned mines that have kept so many rivers, streams, wetlands and watersheds down for so long, said Rathbun, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg.
“Mountain streams and rivers that were orange when I was a kid are now filled with fish, are now lined with trees and rhododendrons, and that’s progress,” Rathbun said.
FEDERAL AID FACTOR
A big reason for such progress is the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, passed by Congress to regulate the mining industry and to reclaim or remediate about 1 million acres of abandoned sites mined nationwide before that time. The act also restricts the abandonment of such sites prior to proper reclamation.
Under the act, active mining operations nationwide must also pay a tax on each ton of coal produced at a rate of 35 cents per ton for surface-mined coal; 15 cents per ton for deep-mined coal; and 10 cents per ton for lignite coal.
The money collected from the coal production tax goes into the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, an interest-accruing account held by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining to finance the reclamation of high-priority abandoned coal mine sites.
In 2005, the DEP awarded 41 contracts worth about $26 million for the reclamation of 968 acres of abandoned mine lands in 18 counties, Rathbun said. A portion of that money came from the federal abandoned mine fund, with the rest received from state Growing Greener grants.
Fifteen such contracts were awarded this year to companies in Westmoreland, Fayette and Indiana counties. Four of those reclamation projects are being designed, construction is occurring on seven more and four have been completed.
“There are an awful lot of people that have put time into making this happen, people who aren’t looking at the problem and complaining, but looking for a solution to the problem,” Rathbun said.
Nevertheless, Rathbun said, the state requires a larger slice of the federal funding doled out annually to more quickly reclaim about 250,000 acres of abandoned mine sites and clean up more polluted watersheds.
Currently, the state is allotted between $19 million and $24 million annually from the fund. At present, $1.5 billion in collected coal production taxes has yet to be allocated for mine reclamation projects nationwide.
“The state is focused on cleaning up this huge, historic mess,” Rathbun said. “We don’t believe we’re asking for anything extravagant (from the federal government) to do it.”
About 1.4 million state residents live within a mile of these toxic sites, said John Dawes, administrator of the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program.
“When I say toxic, I mean it, because these sites are filled with heavy metals that cause nearby watersheds and groundwater to be filled with mine drainage,” Dawes said.
Roughly 2,200 miles of state streams are polluted or largely devoid of life as a result of acid mine drainage from abandoned sites, with another 4,000 miles of state streams degraded by such metals as iron, aluminum and manganese, all of which can be toxic to humans.
Additionally, there are 8,529 acres of unreclaimed refuse piles statewide with 258 million tons of waste coal, according to DEP statistics. The state also has at least 2,000 abandoned and flooding mine pools that discharge polluted water from about 5,000 known points and threaten the health of numerous rivers and streams.
“I firmly believe that if this pollution were to be created today, as opposed to over the past 100 years, the public would never stand for it,” said Bruce Golden, of the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. “But here in Pennsylvania, it’s something we’ve grown up with, so it just goes unnoticed.”
Rathbun confirmed that water contaminated by acid mine drainage eventually serves as the municipal water supply for many residents in both rural and urban areas of the state. To him, this further speaks to the state’s need for more funding to address mine drainage issues.
“We need something that’s going to work for the Appalachian states; any place there was mining before the 1970s, there’s a real need for reclamation,” Rathbun said. “And that money still only cleans up higher-priority sites; it doesn’t even touch on all the non-coal quarries in need of reclamation.”
Currently, the mine reclamation fund reserves 50 percent of the tax money for use by states where the most coal is collected. The other 50 percent is placed in the Federal Share, where 20 percent of that amount is allocated to the Rural Abandoned Mine Program authorized to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands located in Pennsylvania and nine other states.
Two problems exist with the current system, Rathbun said.
First, a number of the states mining the highest tonnage of coal today, such as Wyoming, have a minimal amount of abandoned mine land, but they get the lion’s share of money meant to reclaim such land. Secondly, the roughly $25 million in fund dollars budgeted yearly for Pennsylvania projects is just not enough when considering the amount of abandoned mine lands here.
Also, the act and accompanying fund, which were set to expire in 2004, have since been extended by Congress for intervals of mere months.
What the state DEP and many local watershed groups are seeking from Congress is official reauthorization of the act and the accompanying fund for the next 20 years, plus an increase in its yearly allotment to about $35 million.
“If you try to undertake what is a $5 billion problem here on a month-to-month basis, it’s going to take a long, long time at that rate to see significant results,” said Rathbun, who estimated that it would take 50 years to address just the high-priority sites with the current yearly mine fund allotment to the state. “It’s important to us to know how much we’re getting and for how long.”
WHAT IS BEING DONE
Last summer, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., managed to secure a one-year extension on the federal mine reclamation fund that also preserves the current tax rates on tonnage of coal at active mines. But the fund is set to expire July 1. Discontinuation of it would result in the transfer of any leftover fund money to general government revenue.
Now, a state congressional delegation including U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Philadelphia, and U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Titusville, is trying to work out a more permanent and reliable means of accessing the fund dollars for state reclamation projects.
“What we want is to find a more permanent arrangement, a long-term reauthorization (of the fund) that meets the needs of a state with our mining history,” Rathbun said.
Some members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyoming, intend to propose changes to the act that would mean even less money for such states as Pennsylvania, Golden said. She and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall II, D-W.Va., want to see that more fund dollars instead be transferred to Western states with more active coal mining operations and to the United Mine Workers of America to enhance money available to address retired miners’ health care needs, Golden said.
Also, Hawes said, many mining companies want to see changes in the mine production tax.
“In a time frame of record profits for coal companies and record increases in the price of coal, they’re calling for a reduction in the tax,” Hawes marveled. “I would argue that if these companies would reclaim more mines, it might be best for their image. These are scars of the past.”
To such companies, and to states that receive most of the fund money each year based on the amount of coal produced, Rathbun chooses to remind them of the past.
“For a long time, the entire nation depended on coal, limestone, iron ore and steel from Pennsylvania. It helped win the Revolutionary War, it built railroads that opened the West and rebuilt Europe after two world wars,” Rathbun said. “Our take on this is that this is not Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine problem, it’s America’s problem.”
For that reason, and because of the lower quality of life for those living near abandoned mine fields, it’s the government’s responsibility to abide by the original intentions of the reclamation act, said Bev Braverman, executive director of Mountain Watershed Association and Tri-State Citizens Mining Network.
“It is ridiculous and unacceptable for people to be living in or near these abandoned coal fields,” Braverman said. “Most people don’t realize how many people are living in these areas without potable water due to contaminated streams; it makes for an overall lower quality of life.”
State DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty agrees.
“It is important that we continue to aggressively locate and reclaim these dangerous places,” she said.
With that in mind, Rathbun said, the state is seeking alternate solutions to the problem while waiting for more federal dollars.
“We’re not sitting on our hands waiting for someone to hand us money,” Rathbun said. “With smaller watershed groups and state and local government being open to new ideas, our job is to see that other solutions are being put into practice.”
Such alternatives include remining, in which a company takes over an abandoned site, removes the minable reserves for profit and reclaims the site afterward. Also, a company found to be in violation of state mining law can be given the option of undertaking a mine reclamation in lieu of a sanction.
“I think they appreciate that; our modern mining industry sometimes faces a lot of anti-mining bias based on things that were done in the past,” said Rathbun, adding that the industry itself reclaims thousands of acres of abandoned mine land each year at no cost to the state.
Another alternative effort is Gov. Ed Rendell’s Growing Greener II initiative, which proposes $100 million over four years to address a vast array of environmental and public health problems at abandoned mine sites. The proposal has yet to be passed by the state Legislature.
In the end, though, perpetuating the act and federal mine reclamation fund through votes in Congress is the only way to accomplish the goal of reclaiming all abandoned mine lands, Braverman said.
“We’re looking for some courageous senators and congresspeople who will step forward and get reauthorization for this bill,” said Braverman, adding that the 20-year reauthorization time frame being sought and the increased funding allotment could reclaim all of Pennsylvania. “This state could be entirely restored in that time, and we’re one of the worst states for this, so that should tell you about what could happen in the other states.”
A.J. Panian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.