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CERCLA Financial Responsibility/Hardrock Mining

Posted By Darrell Smith, Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A proposed rule of the EPA adopts regulations under 40 CFR 320.1 through 320.65 regarding financial responsibility requirements under CERCLA Section 108(b) for classes of facilities in the hardrock mining industry, including certain facilities that engage in the extraction, beneficiation and processing of metals and nonmetallic, nonfuel minerals. The rule requires owners and operators to demonstrate and maintain financial responsibility consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the treatment, production, transportation, storage and disposal of hazardous substances at their facilities, including response costs, health assessment costs and natural resource damages. The rule also establishes a process for owners and operators to identify a financial responsibility amount for their sites, to demonstrate evidence of financial responsibility, and to maintain the required amount of financial responsibility until the requirement for financial responsibility for the site is released by the EPA. In addition, the rule establishes conditions for payment of funds from the financial responsibility instruments. Comments are due March 13, 2017, and IMA-NA is preparing a submittalal.

View the Federal Register Notice here.

View the EPA 108(b) portal page here.

View the IMA-NA position here.

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Passing of Brenda George

Posted By Mark Ellis, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brenda George, a long-time employee of both NISA and IMA-NA, passed away on January 1.  She was 66.

 

Brenda served as an administrative assistant, joining NISA in 1988.  She continued to work for IMA-NA when NISA employees converted to IMA-NA employment in 2004.  She left IMA-NA to pursue other interests in 2010.

 

For those of you who knew Brenda, you know that she was a warm, caring and giving person.  For those of you who didn’t know her, trust me, you missed something.  Bless her soul.  She truly is missed, but certainly not forgotten.

 

A celebration of Brenda’s life will be held this Thursday, January 12, 2017, at Ebenezer AME Church, 7806 Allentown Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744. The viewing is at 10 a.m., and the service will begin at 11 a.m.

 

Those of you that wish to express sympathy and condolences to Brenda’s next of kin can contact her daughters, Shauna and Robin George, at 6303 Clinton Way, Clinton, MD 20735.


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MineFit: Hello and Happy New Year! (and Football Playoff Season)

Posted By Darrell Smith, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

At this very time last year, MineFit began as a program to "Treat Miners Like Athletes." At first, this concept was met with amusement by some. But as the year progressed, many people in our industry began to realize what this concept actually means: Athletes work with muscles and movement - often repeated movement patterns (e.g. slant route, block, place-kick) -  and any error or injury can cost them valuable yardage and points. Miners are our greatest resource, and they work with muscles, joints, and repeated movement patterns all day long. They should receive the same training and treatment while on-site that athletes get on the field.

Each Monday last year, we brought to light our muscles and movement patterns and combined many Moves together as guides to be used on-site and during health and safety training and toolbox talks. Please take a look at our MondayMoves from 2016, and stay tuned each week for a new or refresher move this year!  

Excited to be a part of sustaining and innovating our workforce in 2017. 

Your MineFit Head Coach,

Monica


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IMA-NA Announces a Change to the Traditional Spring Meeting

Posted By Darrell Smith, Monday, January 9, 2017

For many years IMA-NA has held a Spring Meeting in Washington, DC. A primary purpose of that meeting always has been to allow our members to visit with lawmakers and other government officials to discuss issues of importance to the industry. The IMA-NA Board of Directors elected to schedule a “Fly-In” in lieu of the traditional 2017 Spring Meeting. Advanced notice of the IMA-NA Fly-In will be provided, and all members with interest in the subject matter (likely tax reform) will be asked to come to DC for a night or two. We anticipate a lot of Congressional action in the coming year and altering our Spring Meeting to a Fly-In will allow IMA-NA to maximize our industry impact on legislation more effectively. We hope that this new arrangement will be a success and that our members will elect to participate when they are able. Your participation in the “Fly-In” will convey to Members of Congress the importance the industrial minerals industry attaches to its issues.

 

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House Passes Bills to Expand Congressional Oversight of Regulatory Actions

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, January 6, 2017

This week the U.S. House of Representatives took their the first actions in the 115th Congress to address the regulatory agenda of the past 8 years. The House voted on and passed both the Midnight Rules Relief Act (H.R. 21) and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (REINS Act or H.R.26) almost completely along party lines. When taken together H.R. 21 and H.R. 26 allow Congress greater influence and oversight over both the last regulations to come out of the Obama Administration and future proposed regulations. Over the last 8 years, the Republican Caucus has consistently criticized and challenged the regulatory overreach promulgated under the Obama Administration; passage of H.R. 21 and H.R. 26 were in line with the start of this new congressional session. 

The Midnight Rules Relief Act will amend the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to allow lawmakers to bundle together multiple rules and overturn them en masse with a joint resolution of disapproval, if it passes the Senate. The CRA would apply to regulations put forward for review within the last 60 legislative days of the 114th Congressional Session. Opponents of the bill argue that it will result in the overturning of regulations without considering the merits of individual regulations, while sponsor Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) sees the action as streamlining the process of the CRA.

The REINS Act, true to its name, aims to curb the ability of agencies to promulgate unnecessary or overly burdensome regulations without Congress's sign off. Should the REINS Act pass the Senate and be signed into law, It would require Congressional approval of regulations, with an impact of $100 million or more on the economy, for them to take effect. 

These two bills would provide either more necessary oversight over the regulatory agencies or eat into the autonomy and power of the executive branch, depending on one's view of the jurisdictional limitations of the different branches of government. 

To read the Midnight Rules Relief Act click here.

To read the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 click here. 

Tags:  115th Congress  administration  Congress  GOP  House  legislation  overregulation  regulations  regulators  REINS 

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Update on Sage Grouse

Posted By Chris Greissing, Friday, January 6, 2017
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has advanced a proposal that would block hard rock mining on roughly 10 million acres in the western United States in an effort to further protect the greater sage grouse.  This is a continuation of the earlier action from the Obama Administration that determined the Greater Sage Grouse did not warrant listing as an endangered species, but promised increased protections would still be put in to place.  

The draft environmental impact statement issued by the BLM would block activity under new mining claims in sagebrush territory in six western states: Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, Oregon and Utah.  

There will be a 90 day comment period for the proposal concluding on March 30, 2017.  

More information along with the full draft proposal can be viewed on the BLM website, here

A letter from BLM’s Assistant Director for Energy, Minerals and Realty Management Michael Nedd on this proposal is attached.

Download File (PDF)

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NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Cold Stress

Posted By Darrell Smith, Friday, January 6, 2017

Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Extremely cold or wet weather is a dangerous situation that can cause occupational illness and injuries such as hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains.

NIOSH has published a poster on cold stress. To download and post, click here.

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IMA-NA Issues Position on CERCLA 108(b)

Posted By Darrell Smith, Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule, released on December 1, 2016, to mandate Superfund Financial Responsibility Requirements under CERCLA § 108(b) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry.  IMA-NA believes the proposal places unnecessary and costly burdens on the industrial minerals industry and is incongruent with the degree of actual environmental risk posed by our members’ operations.  Further, IMA-NA believes the proposed rule is redundant relative to other existing financial responsibility requirements placed on the industry, and feels the definition of those covered by the proposed rule is confusing and vague.

IMA-NA is a trade association created to advance the interests of North American companies that extract or process industrial minerals used throughout the manufacturing and agricultural industries.  Our members are committed to socially responsible extraction of mineral resources.  IMA-NA stands ready to participate constructively in this important discussion regarding the exemption of industrial minerals from the proposed CERCLA financial responsibility requirements. 

Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund) gives EPA the authority to require certain classes of facilities establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility. According to EPA, this financial responsibility demonstrates the owner or operator's ability to cover the costs associated with releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances from their facilities.  Facilities subject to the proposed rule would be required to demonstrate financial responsibility using one or more of the following financial responsibility instruments: a letter of credit; insurance; trust fund; or surety bond.

In July 2009 EPA identified certain hardrock mining and mineral processing facilities as its first priority for the development of financial responsibility requirements under CERCLA section 108(b).  EPA research indicated the hardrock mining and mineral-processing industry typically operates on a large scale, and, in some situations, subsequent exposure of humans, organisms, and ecosystems to hazardous substances occurs on a similarly large scale.  EPA also stated that hardrock mining facilities generate an enormous volume of waste, which may increase the risk of hazardous substance release.

Contrary to the EPA’s current justifications for this proposal, industrial minerals mining and processing, in fact, use few chemicals and toxins and the likelihood of any one mine becoming a Superfund site is extraordinarily low.  This fact was demonstrated by EPA itself when it issued a June 29, 2016 memorandum titled Mining Classes Not Included in Identified Hardrock Mining Classes of Facilities (Hoffman memo) where it recommended that virtually all industrial minerals facilities not be included in this rulemaking.  IMA-NA strongly believes all industrial minerals facilities should be excluded from this rulemaking.

The proposed rule is confusing and does not assist industrial minerals facilities in determining whether they are potentially subject to the proposed rule.  The definitions of the included universe are so vague that virtually every industrial minerals facility potentially could be at risk of inclusion.  Before IMA-NA can comment effectively on the proposed rule it requests that EPA provide much more clarity as to what types of hardrock mining facilities fall under the proposed rule and what criteria preclude inclusion. IMA-NA also requests the classes of facilities originally identified in the Hoffman memo remain out of the rule.

IMA-NA believes EPA has issued a poorly formulated proposed rule that will add extraordinary costs to an environmentally friendly industry.  Large amounts of money potentially will be spent to obtain financial responsibility assurances for no net gain to environmental protection.  IMA-NA believes our member company scarce resources could better be spent on environmental programs that yield real benefits.

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

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

IMA-NA will be convening our first First Friday Ask IMA this Friday, January 6th at 1:00pm EST. The 115th Congress was sworn in yesterday and the legislative agenda will begin to take more solid form throughout the week. IMA-NA staff will take the opportunity this Friday to review the recent appointments that could impact our industry, discuss the outstanding regulatory items on our radar, and answer any questions members might have about upcoming lobbying efforts on the percentage depletion allowance or any other issues. Please join us as we kick off the new Congress and, soon to be, new Administration. 

 

Click here to register

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IMA-NA Comments on OSHA Lock-Out/Tag-Out

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

IMA-NA recently filed comments on an OSHA proposed rule, Standards Improvement Project - Phase IV, through which OSHA ostensibly intended to "remove or revise outdated, duplicative, unnecessary and inconsistent requirements in OSHA's safety and health standards." However, some of the proposals would have made substantive changes in the standards. For instance, the proposal would remove the well-established and relied upon term "unexpected" from the lock-out/tag-out (LOTO) standard. When the LOTO standard was first adopted by OSHA in 1989 it was specifically limited to only cover "the servicing and maintenance operations in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment, or the release of stored energy could cause injury to employees." Contrary to the intent of the Standards Improvement Project, the proposal would significantly change the meaning and scope of the LOTO standard. The comments do not suggest that OSHA could not properly delete the term "unexpected" from the LOTO standard; they maintain that to do so OSHA should engage in a formal rulemaking process and not the Standards Improvement Project.

To read IMA-NA's comments please open the attachment below.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  comments  LOTO  osha  Regulations  rulemaking 

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