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IMA-NA Expresses Concerns to MSHA on UG Escapeways

Posted By Mark Ellis, Thursday, March 23, 2017

In a letter to Acting Assistant Secretary Patricia Silvey, IMA-NA expressed concerns to MSHA about a purported change in agency enforcement policy related to underground escapeways and refuges.  IMA-NA underground producer members have reported a possible change in agency policy reinterpreting the plain language of 30 CFR §57.11050.  The new interpretation would require two escapeways from every working place, rather than the mine’s lowest levels, and impose new requirements regarding the location of refuge areas.  IMA-NA expressed the concern that such deviation from the plain language of the regulation could constitute rulemaking through policy interpretation rather than through the required notice and comment rulemaking.  IMA-NA requested that the agency convene a meeting of impacted stakeholders to discuss the matter before final agency action is taken.

The IMA-NA letter to MSHA is attached.


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Tags:  escapeways  MSHA  policy  refuges  regulations 

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Cabinet Confirmations Move Forward - Mulvaney & Pruitt

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, February 17, 2017

Yesterday, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC5) was sworn in as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Senate confirmed Mulvaney by a narrow margin of 51-49, largely along party lines.  Senator John McCain was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation, a decision that was made due to Mulvaney's past opposition to budget increases for the military.  Under the leadership of a fiscal hawk, OMB will play an important role in the Trump Administration's plans to rein in overly burdensome regulations.  The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in OMB, which conducts reviews proposed regulations and evaluates the economic impacts, is expected to fulfill its role as a check on regulatory overreach more effectively in the new Administration. The confirmation of Mick Mulvaney also allows for OMB to begin reviewing agency budget proposals, a process that has been on hold while there was not a Director in place.

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) largely along party lines with a final vote of 52-46.  Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke with the Democratic Party and voted for Pruitt while Susan Collins of Maine voted against his confirmation.  Pruitt's confirmation is seen as a coup for the Administration and Republican Party who criticized the EPA loudly for regulatory overreach under the Obama Administration.  Pruitt has a long history of legal challenges to various EPA regulations and his confirmation has been opposed by environmentalists who view him as an enemy to the stated goals of the EPA.  For industry, Pruitt's confirmation is another signal that the regulatory environment in the United States will become substantially friendlier to business and traditional industrial developments. 

As Congress continues using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to revoke various regulations from the last year of Obama's Administration these two confirmations will be shaping the new Administration's regulatory agenda in its new direction.

Tags:  administration  cabinet  confirmation  EPA  Mulvaney  OMB  Pruitt  Regulations  Senate  Trump 

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IMA-NA will be convening First Friday's Ask IMA this Friday, February 3rd at 1:00pm EST. Following the Inauguration on January 20th, Donald Trump's Administration is officially underway. IMA-NA staff will take the opportunity this Friday to review the legislative, regulatory, and executive actions that could impact our industry in the coming months. We'll discuss IMA-NA's upcoming actions to represent the interests of the industrial minerals industry and answer any questions participants have on recent happenings in DC.

To Register Click Here. 

Tags:  administration  first friday  legislation  member outreach  outreach  Regulations  Trump 

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EPA Webinar on CERCLA 108(b) Financial Assurances

Posted By Mark Ellis, Monday, January 30, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2017

EPA held a previously announced Webinar on its proposed rule on CERCLA (Superfund) Section 108(b) financial assurances for hardrock mining facilities.  This Webinar specifically addressed the formula EPA proposes to use to calculate the financial assurances that would be required to be posted by the covered universe of hardrock mining facilities.  That covered universe is somewhat nebulous.  While few industrial minerals operations are specifically identified in the proposed rule, the scope of the proposal could be interpreted to cover industrial minerals facilities not specifically identified.  As the cost of providing the proposed financial assurances almost certainly would total millions of dollars, it behooves industrial minerals operations to consider their potential liability if they are deemed to be part of the covered universe.  IMA-NA intends to address the issue of potential coverage of industrial minerals operations in comments due to be filed by March 13, 2017.

The EPA Webinar PowerPoint presentation can be accessed by clicking here.

The proposed formula for calculating financial assurances is attached.


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Tags:  CERCLA  EPA  financial assurances  regulations 

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Regulatory Freeze Pending Review

Posted By Mark Ellis, Monday, January 23, 2017

On January 20, 2017, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments ordering a regulatory freeze pending review.  The memorandum is similar to those issued by previous presidential administrations when a new president takes over from an incumbent.  Among its provisions, with certain exceptions:

  • Send no regulation to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until a department or agency head under the new administration reviews and approves the regulation;

  • Withdraw regulations sent to the OFR, but not yet published, for review and approval;

  • Temporarily postpone for 60 days the effective date of regulations that have been published in the OFR, but have not yet taken effect, for purposes of reviewing questions of fact, law and policy they raise.  For those regulations that raise substantial questions of law or policy, notify the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and

  • Exclude from the actions above any regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines and identify such exclusions to the OMB Director.

One MSHA final rule potentially affected by the memorandum is the Agency’s final rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines.  The final rule was not published in the Federal Register until January 23.  At the very least, its effective date is likely to be extended from May 23, 2017, for an additional 60 days.

The regulatory freeze pending review memorandum is attached.


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Tags:  regulations 

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Final Rule on Examination of MNM Working Places

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has announced a final rule that amends the Agency’s standards for the examination of working places in metal and nonmetal mines.  The final rule requires: 1) that an examination of the working place be conducted before miners begin working in that place, 2) that operators notify miners in the affected area of any conditions found that may adversely affect their safety or health, 3) that operators promptly initiate corrective action, and 4) that a record be made of the examination.  The final rule also requires that the examination record include: 1) the name of the person conducting the examination, 2) the location of all areas examined, 3) a description of each condition found that may adversely affect the safety or health of miners, and 4) the date of the corrective action.  In addition, the final rule requires that miner operators make the examination record available for inspection by authorized representatives of the Secretary and miners’ representatives and provide a copy upon request.  The final rule will become effective on May 23, 2017.  It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017.  In the meantime, the 83-page rule can be viewed on the MSHA Website.  To view the final rule, click here.


Tags:  examinations of working places  final rule  metal and nonmetal  MSHA  Regulations 

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Canada Considering Asbestos Regulations

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

IMA-NA filed comments on the Government of Canada's Notice of Intent to Develop Regulations Respecting Asbestos.  The comments respond to the notice of intent published in the Canada Gazette on December 17, 2016.  The next step in the development of these regulations will include consultations with representatives of provincial and territorial governments, industry, non-governmental organizations, the public and other stakeholders.  Input received during these consultations will be considered during the development of the regulations.  These consultations will take place in the spring of 2017, and additional information will be available on the following Web page:  http://www.ec.gc.ca/toxiques-toxics/Default.asp?lang=En&n=A183A275-1.  Interested parties will have another opportunity to make written comments specific to the regulatory proposal during the mandatory consultation period that will follow publication of the proposed regulations in December 2017.

 

The IMA-NA comments, without attachments, are attached.


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Tags:  asbestos  canada  Canadi  environment  health  Regulations 

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US Small Government Panel Releases Review of CERCLA Proposal

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, January 12, 2017

This week, the government released the Report of the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBAR Panel) on the EPA's proposed rule: Financial Responsibility Requirements for the Hardrock Mining Industry under CERCLA § 108(b). The Panel reviewed the rule to assess the impact specifically on small mining operations and found the proposed rule to be lacking in provisions to protect small operations. The panel made recommendations for six areas in need of greater stakeholder input and adjustments to prevent small businesses from being unduly burdened by the rule. The Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Advocacy, "believes that the current approach could unnecessarily threaten the viability of small mines by use of these inflated estimates". In addition, the Office of Advocacy also questioned why the CERCLA financial assurance amounts are substantially higher than the State and FLMA's financial assurance programs. The results of the SBAR Panel echo many of IMA-NA's concerns and thoughts about the imprecision and flaws of the proposal as it currently stands.

To read the findings of the SBAR Panel please click here. 

Tags:  CERCLA  EPA  Regulations  rulemaking  SBA  SBAR Panel 

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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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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.

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Tags:  comments  LOTO  osha  Regulations  rulemaking 

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