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IMA and NISA Sign Letter to Trump Administration Encouraging the Nomination of Members to the STB

Posted By Chris Greissing, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA) and National Industrial Sand Association (NISA) are members of the Rail Customer Coalition (RCC).  The RCC is a large collection of trade associations representing a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural, and energy industries that depend on the railroads to deliver reliable and affordable service in order to remain competitive in a global market.  

The RCC has sent a letter to the Trump Administration encouraging the Administration to nominate new members and a permanent Chair to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB).  It is imperative that we have a fully-staffed STB committed to moving forward on freight rail policy reforms that will streamline overly burdensome regulatory procedures and promote greater competition in the rail sector.  There are currently only two of the five STB positions filled and no permanent chair causing progress to stall.  

A total of 72 associations and companies signed on to the letter, including IMA, NISA and several of our member companies.  IMA and NISA will continue to work within the coalition to promote commonsense solutions to the transportation issues our member companies are currently facing.  

The letter is attached.

 Attached Files:

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FERC Rejects Proposed Rule to Reinvigorate Coal and Nuclear Production

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, January 10, 2018

On January 8th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) unanimously rejected Secretary of Energy Perry's proposal for new regulations that would favor nuclear and coal powered energy production. Secretary Perry proposed the "Grid Reliability and Resilience Pricing" rulemaking as a way to address our national electric grid's reliability, but the move was seen as a way to help the two energy sectors that have been struggling recently. In the proposal, FERC was asked to favor power plants capable of storing a 90-day fuel supply on site, unlike renewable energy or natural gas plants. IMA-NA and NISA joined other stakeholders in asking FERC to reject the proposal on the grounds it would interfere with market forces by propping up older and less efficient plants that are struggling to compete with new energy sources. Specifically, this move would have handicapped the growing natural gas industry in the United States. Natural gas is a growing industry and one that provides low cost energy across the country for industrial, commercial, and individual consumers. IMA-NA is pleased with FERC's decision to reject this proposal.  It should be noted though, that the Commission initiated a new rule to look at the resilience of the electric grid in a more "holistic fashion". FERC has requested regional transmission operators submit information and materials to help the Commission decide what, if any, course of action is necessary to improve the resilience of the grid. Operators have 60 days to submit materials. 

To read the decision click here

To read the comments IMA-NA & NISA signed onto click here

Tags:  DOE  energy  FERC  natural gas  Regulations  Secretary Perry 

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IMA-NA Comments on MSHA Diesel RFI

Posted By Mark Ellis, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Yesterday IMA-NA filed comments on MSHA’s Request for Information on Exposure to Diesel Exhaust of Underground Miners (RFI).  The comments have their basis in the responses IMA-NA has filed to date on the RFI, but primarily address the work of the NIOSH-MSHA Diesel Exhaust Health Effects Partnership (Partnership) and its meeting on September 19, 2017.  The comments address the fact that the RFI and the Partnership began under the Obama Administration and are proceeding under the Trump Administration.  They seek to reflect an ongoing, proactive IMA-NA commitment to reducing diesel emissions exposures and to the Partnership process.  Background information on the Partnership can be accessed through the following link:  https://www.msha.gov/regulations/rulemaking/diesel-exhaust-health-effects-partnership.

 

In the Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda MSHA did not indicate that it intended to extend the comment period on the RFI beyond the end of the current comment period on January 9.  The IMA-NA comments request that the RFI comment period be kept open for public comment indefinitely or, if need be, extended to at least January 9, 2019, contemplating subsequent extensions as warranted.  The principal reason for doing so is to allow continued commentary on the work of the Partnership in what may, or may not, ultimately be a rulemaking record.

 

The comments on MSHA’s RFI on Exposure to Diesel Exhaust in Underground Miners are attached.


Download File (PDF)

Tags:  diesel  health effects  MSHA  NIOSH  Partnership 

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IMA-NA Comments on ESA Mitigation Policies

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On January 5th, IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) in response to the request for comments on the Service's current Endangered Species Act (ESA) mitigation policies. The request comes as each Department and Agency is reviewing regulations to carry out President Trump's Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The Service was specifically looking at the change in the mitigation policy under President Obama to recommend or require "net conservation gain" as the standard for mitigation plans. IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments urging the Service to remove the "net conservation gain" standard as it creates the opportunity for the costs of mitigation plans to grow exponentially without a clear outline of the limitations. Along with other industry groups we also feel the standard creates greater confusion and a lack of consistency for the implementation of mitigation programs across the country. Additionally, the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) submitted comments urging the removal of "net conservation gain" from the FWS standards because it is inconsistent with the "no net loss" standard set by the Clean Water Act section 404 permitting rules. WAC argues "net conservation gain" could greatly disrupt and delay the permitting process due to the inconsistency.

To read the IMA-NA and NISA comments click here

To read the Waters Advocacy Coalition comments click here

Tags:  comments  CWA  ESA  FWS  mitigation policy  Regulations  WAC 

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Afternoon

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, January 5, 2018
Please join IMA-NA staff as we convene 2018's first "First Friday Ask IMA" call today, January 5th, at 1:00pm EST. December was a busy month for Congress and the Administration. As you all are aware, IMA-NA was successful in maintaining the percentage depletion allowance in the tax bill, but we will provide further information on that and other issues of interest to the industry. Happy New Year and we're looking forward to speaking with you all this afternoon. 


Click here to register

Tags:  first friday  member outreach 

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Court Rules Against Industry in Challenge to the Silica Standard

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, December 22, 2017

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court rejected all the industry challenges to OSHA's new silica standard. The standard lowers the permissible exposure limit to respirable crystalline silica in the workplace. The legal challenge, led by the US Chamber of Commerce, asked the court to review five issues related to the rule including whether "substantial evidence" supported OSHA's claim that silica exposure is dangerous and whether the rule is economically and/or technically feasible for particular industries. The court rejected all of the arguments presented by the Chamber and other industry groups. 

While the court ruled against the industry challenges, it did order the Department of Labor to review and further explain the omission of a provision to allow doctors to recommend pulling exposed workers off jobs. 

To read the decision click here

Tags:  osha  Respirable Crystalline Silica  silica 

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Executive Order Issued on Critical Minerals

Posted By Mark Ellis, Thursday, December 21, 2017

Yesterday President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) instructing cabinet officers and administration officials to devise a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals that are vital to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity.  The EO is supported by a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that offers the first assessment of the country’s critical minerals resources since 1973, an analysis the agency began in 2013.  The report concludes that 20 out of the 23 critical minerals the nation relies upon are sourced from China.

The EO declares that “[i]t shall be the policy of the Federal Government to reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, which constitutes a strategic vulnerability for the security and prosperity of the United States.”  The policy is to be furthered by identifying new sources of critical minerals, increasing activity at all levels of the supply chain, ensuring electronic access to mineral science data and streamlining the leasing and permitting process.  The EO directs several cabinet officers and administration officials to develop a strategy to implement the policy within specified time frames.

The USGS critical minerals report primarily addresses metals, although barite is identified as one of the critical minerals.

Initiatives to reduce the time it takes to permit and develop a mine are likely to flow from the EO.  However, increased royalties from minerals produced on federal lands has been discussed, presumably to help finance related federal activities but also to increase the federal government’s revenue stream.

To view the as-yet unnumbered EO, click here.

To view the USGS critical minerals report, click here.


Tags:  critical minerals  Executive Order  USGS 

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IMA-NA Recommends Regs for Repeal, Replacement or Modification

Posted By Mark Ellis, Friday, December 15, 2017

In response to a request by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), IMA-NA has offered recommendations on regulations to repeal, replace or modify pursuant to President Trump’s Executive Order (E.O.) 13777, issued on February 24, 2017.  IMA-NA’s cover letter and its preliminary input are attached.


Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

Tags:  EO 13777  MSHA  regulations 

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Trump Administration Unveils S&H Agenda for 2018

Posted By Mark Ellis, Friday, December 15, 2017

Yesterday the Trump administration released the Fall 2017 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Regulatory Agenda or Agenda).  The current Regulatory Agenda builds on regulatory/deregulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration in July 2017.  It contains a completely revised portal page (https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain) which provides highlights of overall changes the Trump Administration is pursuing in the regulatory space.  The Agenda also contains an introduction to the Fall 2017 Regulatory Plan by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  OIRA is the White House clearinghouse for agency regulatory actions.  The three-page document highlights the Trump Administration's approach to Executive Branch implementation of law through the regulatory process (https://www.reginfo.gov/public/jsp/eAgenda/StaticContent/201710/VPStatement.pdf).

Executive Order 12866 requires the semiannual publication of an agenda of regulations that contains a listing of all the regulations the Department of Labor expects to have under active consideration for promulgation, proposal, or review during the coming one-year period.  MSHA has five initiatives it intends to have under active consideration in the coming year.  MSHA is expected to continue to hold the rulemaking record open on its Request for Information on exposure of underground miners to diesel exhaust through a regulatory action taken in January 2018.  MSHA is expected to issue a first-ever Request for Information on its existing petitions for modification process.  That action is slated for April 2018.  The Final Rule on Examination of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines will take effect on June 2, 2018.

Another part of the Agenda identifies regulatory initiatives that are long-term initiatives.  Notably, MSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica regulatory initiative is listed as "Next Action Undetermined," as is the case for Proximity Detection Systems for Mobile Machines in Underground Mines. 


Tags:  MSHA  OSHA  regulations  regulatory agenda 

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Hi-Crush Receives Environmental Stewardship and Green Tier Recognition

Posted By RJ Alpers, Thursday, December 14, 2017

IMA-NA is pleased to announce that one of our members, Hi-Crush Partners LP, has been accepted into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Green Tier program! The Green Tier program and status is designed to recognize companies in Wisconsin that are exceeding environmental standards to benefit the community.

Hi-Crush’s business operations were recognized for having been designed to minimize environmental impacts. Furthermore, Hi-Crush’s environmental management system (EMS), which went into effect earlier this year, is expected to optimize operations over time and improve environmental performance.

Hi-Crush’s EMS is based on the ISO 14001 standard at its production facilities to ensure accountability in its compliance with all local, state and federal environmental regulations. Hi-Crush also adheres to a silicosis prevention program (SPP) based on the National Industrial Sand Association’s (NISA) Occupational Health Program for Exposure to Crystalline Silica in the Industrial Sand Industry.

In the article, Mark Skolos, a member of Hi-Crush General Counsel, discussed the importance of the recognition stating, “Environmental stewardship plays a key role in our business and our culture,”. Mr. Skolos added, “We place an emphasis on improving the areas where we live and work, and our inclusion in the Green Tier program is the result of our continued commitment to not just meet, but to exceed, environmental regulatory requirements in the communities where we operate.”

To read the full article and see Hi-Crush’s future environmental performance goals please click here. Congratulations to Hi-Crush!

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