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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

IMA-NA is holding the October First Friday call, this coming Friday, October 13th at 1:00 EST. Staff will be updating members on the legislative and regulatory calendar for the fall, our ongoing work on percentage depletion, CERCLA, and WOTUS, and highlighting other continuous membership efforts we are undertaking. We are looking forward to speaking with everyone on Friday. 

Click Here To Register

Tags:  education  first friday  member outreach 

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Moratorium on Sagebrush Focal Areas To Expire Sunday

Posted By RJ Alpers, Thursday, October 5, 2017

This Sunday, the Interior Department’s two-year moratorium will end and reopen millions of acres of Sage Grouse habitat to new mining claims. Secretary Ryan Zinke is not expected to issue a new moratorium order protecting the 10 million acres of "sagebrush focal areas," or SFAs. The SFAs were included in the Obama-era grouse plans finalized two years ago, intending to protect the Sage Grouse and possibly even label it as an endangered species. While the moratorium ends Sunday, the Bureau of Land Management is currently conducting an environmental impact statement to assess whether all, parts or none of the 10 million acres should be withdrawn from new mining claims for the next 20 years (or more) in the name of protecting the sage grouse and its habitat.

The BLM is not expected to complete their final environmental impact statement until at least the end of the year. Therefore, this Sunday, the moratorium’s expiration will open up the opportunity for mining claims. IMA-NA has been focused on this as a key issue area as federal regulation has overstepped and infringed on each state’s right to regulate their own environmental and conservation efforts. For example in Nevada, Sage Grouse is a legally hunted bird, yet in other parts of the western United States, it falls under SFAs. Furthermore, since the early 2000s state and local agencies in California and Nevada along with federal agencies, landowners and businesses have created and enacted successful conservation plans. The 11 western states with populations of Greater Sage-Grouse have all been working diligently to create conservation plans tailored to balance protection of the birds with each states’ needs. This demonstrates both the importance of role state and local conservation plans that can and should be in efforts to protect wildlife.

Secretary Zinke has already issued a memorandum directing BLM to take steps to implement the sage grouse review team's recommendations changing the federal plans. IMA-NA will continue to follow this situation closely and update membership as the situation develops.

Tags:  Endangered Species  Greater Sage Grouse  mining  sage grouse 

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Ball Clay Day Tomorrow in Gleason Tennessee

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tomorrow kicks off the first event of 2017's North American Minerals Day. Imerys Ceramics, Old Hickory Clay Company, Gleason Clay Company, and Lhoist Spinks Clay are hosting the 3rd Annual Ball Clay Day in Gleason Tennessee. Like many of the minerals represented by IMA-NA, ball clay production is the main industry in its community. Tomorrow all four companies will put on a day to celebrate the role ball clay plays in the community. Festivities include mine tours, local artisans, large equipment displays, educational exhibits, local food vendors, and more. IMA-NA is excited to note that Ball Clay Day is becoming a local tradition and a great way for kids and adults of all ages to come learn more about the unique nature of their community and its role in the world. Stay tuned tomorrow for updates on the event!

The event will take place from 10-2 at Mike Snider Park.

 

Tags:  Ball Clay  Ball Clay Day  community  education  European Minerals Day  members  North American Minerals Day  outreach 

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MSHA Nominee Appears Before Senate Committee

Posted By Chris Greissing, Thursday, October 5, 2017

MSHA Nominee Appears Before Senate Committee

 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the confirmation hearing for David Zatezalo the Trump Administration’s nominee to be the Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  The hearing also covered the nominations for two other Department of Labor positions, the Wage and Hour Division Administrator (Cheryl Stanton) and the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (Peter Robb).  

 

During the question and answer period, Mr. Zatezalo stressed the need to continue to provide consistent enforcement throughout the country at mine sites. He discussed the importance of improving safety technologies such as proximity detection sensors and other new technologies to make the mines as safe as possible.  He also discussed the possibility of reinvigorating the small mine office that was folded into the overall education program at MSHA in 2014.  

 

It is expected that Mr. Zatezalo will receive a vote on his nomination in Committee in two weeks following the Columbus Day recess next week, and then action is anticipated on the floor shortly thereafter.

 

IMA-NA looks forward to working with Mr. Zatezalo upon his confirmation.  

 

To view the hearing, click here.

 

To view the testimony of Mr. Zatezalo, click here

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Natural Gas Leaders Urge Faster Pipeline Development in Appalachia

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Last week during the Shale Insight Conference, two leaders within the industry called for faster development of natural gas pipelines in Appalachia. The natural gas boom offers affordable energy across the country, as long as the infrastructure is in place to transport it. In many areas across the country there remain substantial bottlenecks that prohibit residential and industrial users the benefits of access to natural gas. This is a problem Sara Ortwein, President of XTO Energy, says is affecting the Northeast and leading to energy prices far higher than national average. Both Ortwein and Chevron Appalachia President Stacey Olson highlighted the importance of pipeline construction in Appalachia during the conference last week. From the view of both industry investment and consumer access, expanding the pipeline to allow for greater movement of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica reserves is incredibly important. The comments also provide insight into conversations about the future of Appalachia following the downturn of the traditional industry of coal, which in addition to providing jobs also provided a low cost and plentiful energy source for the area.  

To read more about the comments click here. 

Tags:  conference  gas  infrastructure  natural gas  pipeline 

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IMA-NA Urges Faster Confirmation of EPA Nominees

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, October 3, 2017

IMA-NA and NISA joined other industry groups in urging the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to move forward expeditiously with the confirmations of the four EPA Assistant Administrators currently on the Committee's calendar. The Trump Administration still have a vast number of important positions within each Agency and Department that remain unfilled. While these positions remain vacant, or filled temporarily by career staff, the agencies are largely unable to move forward on important issues facing the nation. Tomorrow, October 4th, at 10am EST the EPW will be holding their hearing on the following nominees:

  • Michael Dourson, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention;
  • Matthew Leopold, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of the General Counsel;
  • David Ross, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Water; and
  • William Wehrum, for EPA Assistant Administrator, Office of Air & Radiation.

You can watch the hearing live here

To read the industry letter urging swift confirmation of the nominees click here

Tags:  administration  Agency  confirmation  Department  EPA  hearing  nominee 

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IMA-NA Comments on EPA's "Waters of the United States"

Posted By RJ Alpers, Monday, October 2, 2017

The Industrial Minerals Association – North America has filed comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed rule to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule and recodify the definition of “waters of the United States” in place prior to the 2015 Rule. IMA-NA’s comments supplement the comments from the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC), which IMA-NA is also a part of. (The WAC Coalition represents a large cross-section of the nation’s construction, real estate, mining, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, energy, wildlife conservation, and public health and safety sectors).

IMA-NA’s comments articulate that the 2015 Rule exemplifies jurisdictional overreach, creates regulatory uncertainty, and insist that a new definition of “Waters of the United States” is necessary. IMA-NA echoes WAC’s support for a rule making to “reasonably and clearly articulate federal and state CWA authorities”. Rescission of the 2015 Rule and the corresponding recodification of the pre-existing regulations would return the Code of Federal Regulations to the regulations that existed prior to the 2015 Rule and reflect the current legal regime under which the Agencies are operating. IMA-NA strongly supports the Agencies addressing the long-term uncertainty of the CWA by having a collaborative rule making process to set a final definition for “waters of the United States”.

To view IMA-NA’s comments, please click here

Tags:  Clean Water Act  CWA  EPA regulations  industrial minerals industry 

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Data Shows Natural Gas Development Reduced Green House Gas Emissions

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Houston Chronicle published an op-ed over the weekend highlighting the important role natural gas development has played in lowering green house gas emissions. The op-ed focuses on a more nuanced understanding of the role fossil fuels and particularly natural gas play in our energy portfolio and the ways the industry is leading on carbon emission reduction work. As most people recognize, natural gas has a lower carbon footprint than traditional fossil fuels but the numbers are an important reminder of the scope of the natural gas impact. Carbon emissions are close to a 30 year low, largely due to the natural gas boom. The op-ed also addresses how natural gas development is a substantial economic driver that brings jobs and prosperity to the United States. As we continue to debate climate change and the policies related to lowering carbon emissions, it is important to remember the issue is complex and the natural gas industry is an important part of any viable resolution.

 

To read the op-ed click here

Tags:  carbon emissions  emissions  gas  industry  natural gas 

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Comments on MSHA Examinations Proposal

Posted By Mark Ellis, Monday, September 25, 2017

IMA-NA filed comments last week on MSHA’s proposed rule to delay the effective date of its final rule on the examination of working places in metal and nonmetal mines.  Through the proposed rule, MSHA proposes to delay the effective date of its final rule from October 2, 2017, to March 2, 2018.  The extension of time would offer additional time for MSHA to provide stakeholders training and compliance assistance.  Other activities MSHA has committed to undertake include holding informational meetings around the country prior to enforcing the final rule, conducting compliance assistance visits at metal and nonmetal mines, addressing issues raised by stakeholders during quarterly training calls, stakeholder meetings and compliance assistance visits, training its inspectors to help assure consistency in MSHA enforcement, and developing training materials to assist miners and mine operators in effectively implementing the final rule.  IMA-NA supported the delay of the effective date and further supported additional delay of the effective date should such be required for MSHA to achieve its stated goals.

The comments are attached below.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  examinations of working places; MSHA; proposed rul  MSHA 

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Comments on EPA Asbestos Scoping Document

Posted By Mark Ellis, Monday, September 25, 2017

IMA-NA filed comments last week on EPA’s draft document, Scope of Risk Evaluation for Asbestos.  The scope document will be used in assessing the risks of asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The document will be central to EPA’s approach in conducting problem formulation, the next step in the process of the required risk evaluation for asbestos.  The IMA-NA comments stress the importance of EPA applying proper mineral science and up-to-date information whenever it addresses the generic term “asbestos.”  Significant and unnecessary confusion is inevitable if it does not.  The comments highlight instances where EPA inappropriately identified non-asbestiform mineral varieties of the six regulated forms of “asbestos” in the scope document as if they, too, were asbestos.  Specific nomenclature and analytical techniques were identified to assist EPA in making the necessary distinctions.

The comments (without the attachments), are attached below.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  asbestos  EPA  risk assessment  scope document  TSCA 

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