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First Friday - This Afternoon

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, October 12, 2018

This is a reminder that IMA-NA will convene our monthly First Friday call this afternoon at 1:00 EST. IMA-NA staff will be providing updates on various issues of interest for members including, the USMCA, the status of tariffs, Waters of the US, the Endangered Species Act, and other topics pertinent to the industry. If you've not done so already, please register below.

 

Click here to Register.

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IMA Files Comments on Administration's Tariff Proposals

Posted By Chris Greissing, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Late last week, the Industrial Minerals Association filed the attached comments to the United States Trade Representative on the Trump Administration's proposed actions pursuant to Section 301: China's Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Innovation.  While we agree that something needs to be done to address China's unfair trade practices and policies, we are extremely concerned that starting a trade war with the Chinese could have significant, long-lasting impacts on the economy and the industrial minerals industry more specifically. 

IMA encouraged the Administration to take an approach that relied more upon constructive negotiations than tariffs in attempting to negotiate with China to address their current trade practices.  One of the primary concerns had been that retaliatory tariffs that have been proposed by China if the U.S. were to move forward with this latest round of tariffs could impact our industrial significantly, and prevent the U.S. manufacturers from being able to compete globally.  Another serious concern is that the industrial minerals industry relies on equipment, chemicals and other materials that they source from China in order to process and produce the industrial minerals into a marketable product, and the proposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will have a significant impact on the ability to business.

Please let IMA staff know should you have any questions. 

We will be having John McDermid, President and COO of the International Business Government Counsellors, Inc.  speaking on this topic as well as other ares involving trade (including the new NAFTA proposals) that could impact the industrial minerals industry at the Industrial Minerals Association conference in 2 weeks out in Napa Valley, California.  If you have not registered yet for that conference, please let IMA staff know, and we can help to get you registered and help you with getting a hotel room. 

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IMA-NA Urges Confirmation of Rajkovich to Review Commission

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

IMA-NA sent letters to President Trump and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer urging the Senate to confirm the nomination of Marco Rajkovich to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.  Mr. Rajkovich was nominated by the President on January 8, 2018.  His nomination was favorably reported by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on March 14, 2018, and was placed on the Senate’s Executive Calendar that same day.  As of August 30, the terms of Commissioners William Althen and Robert Cohen, Jr. expire.  As a result, the Commission will lack a quorum of members (it will have only two of its five members) and therefore will be without authority to take substantive actions in any of the cases pending before it until at least one additional Commissioner is both nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  IMA-NA also urged the President to identify and nominate qualified individuals to bring the Commission to its full five-member complement.

The letters to President Trump and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer are attached.


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Tags:  Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission;  

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MSHA Announces Improved Mine Data Retrieval System

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that an  improved version of the Mine Data Retrieval System (MDRS) is now available for your review on MSHA.gov.  Participants in the IMA-NA/MSHA Alliance meeting last week had an opportunity to preview the beta version of the site before it was publicly announced today.

Please take a look at the new system and let MSHA know what you think.  Your feedback is important to help ensure that the changes work for everyone.  The new system features:

  • An improved user-friendly interface
  • Enhanced ability to analyze data
  • Advanced data visualizations including maps, charts and graphs
  • Upgraded search capabilities 

We were advised that an instruction manual, of sorts, is available on the MDRS website, so you can learn to access and utilize the full capabilities of the improved system.

Please send your comments to webhelp@dol.gov.  MSHA will continue to offer the original version of the MDRS along with our new version until September 7, 2018, while it compiles and responds to your feedback.


Tags:  Mine Data Retrieval System  MSHA 

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Federal Court Rules Against EPA on WOTUS Applicability Date

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, August 17, 2018

Yesterday, the United States District Court in South Carolina issued a nationwide injunction against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Waters of the United States (WOTUS or the 2015 rule) Applicability Date Rule. The court found that the EPA violated rule-making procedures in finalizing a rule to push the implementation date of the 2015 rule back to 2020. The Applicability Rule was the EPA's attempt to ensure continuity of standards across the country while the new definition is finalized, in the face of the Supreme Court decision which overturned the nationwide stay of the 2015 Rule. Thursday's decision, in effect, creates a regulatory patchwork related to the WOTUS. There are 26 states that will now operate under the 2015 Rule, while 24 states still have injunctions against the 2015 Rule. 

The EPA is currently in the process of finalizing the full repeal of the 2015 Rule, but the ruling in South Carolina creates a situation of extreme regulatory uncertainty related to the Clean Water Act. Additionally, there is still the slim possibility that WOTUS could be repealed legislatively as the Banks Amendment is attached to the House Farm Bill. The Farm Bill will be going through conference this fall, so there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the repeal could happen legislatively rather than through the EPA. IMA-NA and other stakeholders are working to get decisions as quickly as possible. 

This court decision could cause serious problems for companies, organizations, and individuals working through a permitting process in any of the 26 states now functioning under the 2015 Rule. If you already are holding water permits in these 26 states, this will not cause immediate impacts, but the process is likely going to become more complicated and difficult as states are forced to comply with the old WOTUS rule. Below is the list of the 26 states impacted by yesterday's decision. 

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida
  5. Hawaii
  6. Illinois
  7. Iowa
  8. Louisiana
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Michigan
  13. Minnesota
  14. New Hampshire
  15. New Jersey
  16. New York
  17. Ohio
  18. Oklahoma
  19. Oregon
  20. Pennsylvania
  21. Rhode Island
  22. Tennessee
  23. Texas
  24. Vermont
  25. Virginia
  26. Washington

Tags:  Clean Water Act  court  EPA  injunction  Regulations  wotus 

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Memo from DOI Deputy Secretary on NEPA Review Process

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The attached signed memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) considers and incorporates each Bureau's feedback for the thorough and timely consideration of environmental impacts analyzed within an Environmental Assessment (EA) document.

 

On August 31, 2017, DOI issued Secretary's Order 3355 to improve DOI’s environmental review processes under the National Environmental

Policy Act (NEPA).

 

Section 4b of the Order directed the Department's Bureau and Office heads to recommend target page and time goals for the preparation of Environmental Assessments (EA) where a Bureau is the Lead Agency.

 

The President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recommends that EAs be approximately 10-15 pages and be completed in three months or less.  DOI generally produces EAs that are approximately 30-40 pages.  In certain circumstances, EAs may need to exceed the CEQ’s guidance.  In these instances, DOI Bureaus should strive to complete EAs in 75 pages or less and conclude the EA review with 180 calendar days of the commencement date.  The memorandum also addresses EA tracking and management, EA team and solicitor assignments, meeting EA page and timeline goals, public involvement, contractor guidance and Bureau NEPA handbooks.  All of which are structured to streamline DOI’s environmental review processes.


This memorandum was sent to all Assistant Secretaries, Heads of Bureaus and Offices and NEPA Practitioners.


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Tags:  DOI  Environmental Assessment  Environmental Impact Statement  NEPA 

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Treasury, IRS issue proposed regulations on new 100 percent depreciation

Posted By Chris Greissing, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Late last week, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations on the new 100% depreciation deduction that allows businesses to write off most depreciable business assets in the year they are placed in service.  The proposal implements several provisions included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed last December. 

The 100% depreciation deduction generally applies to depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years or less and certain other property.  Machinery, equipment, computers, appliances and furniture generally qualify.

It is important to note that the deduction is retroactive and applies to all qualifying property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017.  The proposed regulations provide guidance on what property qualifies for the deduction. 

For more information, including the full IRS news release, click here.

To view Form 4562, click here.

To view the proposed regulations, click here.

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Comments on Draft BLM Resource Management Plans – Sage Grouse

Posted By Mark Ellis, Friday, August 3, 2018

IMA-NA filed comments on six Bureau of Land Management (BLM) draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendments and Environmental Impact Statements for Greater Sage-Grouse conservation.  It did so with respect to four RMPs (Idaho, Nevada and Northeastern California, Utah and Wyoming) in conjunction with allied mining trade associations (Idaho Mining Association, National Mining Association and Utah Mining Association) and on two RMPs (Colorado and Oregon) on its own.  Adopted in September 2015, these plans provided support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finding that listing the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act was not warranted.  In June 2017 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issues a Secretarial Order whose aim is to improve sage grouse conservation by strengthening communication and collaboration between states and the federal government, with the shared goal of conserving and protecting sage grouse and its habitat while also ensuring that conservation efforts do not impede local economic opportunities.  The order resulted in the proposals at issue.  The states of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota were not part of the proposed revision and amendment process.

IMA-NA’s comments are attached.


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Tags:  DEIS  draft Environmental Impact Statement  FWS  Greater Sage Grouse; BLM; USFS  Resource Management Plan  RMP 

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First Friday Ask IMA - Today

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, August 3, 2018

Click here to register

Please join us for this month's First Friday call this afternoon August 3rd, at 1:00 EST. IMA-NA staff will take the opportunity to update members on legislative and regulatory issues of interest to the industry. While the Senate is planning on working through the August recess the House of Representatives has officially left DC and will be in their districts for the rest of the summer. Staff will be discussing the state of trade policy, transportation issues, upcoming issues of focus for the Senate, and the current slate of regulations being considered. We look forward to providing an update.

Tags:  first friday 

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Senate Committee Approves STB Nominee

Posted By Chris Greissing, Wednesday, August 1, 2018
This morning the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved, by voice vote, Martin Oberman to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB). With Committee approval, the full Senate now has the ability to confirm all three STB nominees during the August work period to give the STB a full five member panel.
 
The IMA-NA applauds today’s vote by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to approve the nomination of Martin Oberman to serve on the STB.  For more than two years several vacancies on the Board have remained open, which has hurt the STB’s ability to address ongoing freight rail issues and advance regulatory reforms.

IMA supported the nominations of Martin Oberman, as well as the early nominations of Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz, to the Surface Transportation Board and are looking forward to the three receiving a vote on the Senate floor in the near future.  

The Rail Customer Coalition earlier today released a statement applauding the nomination, which you can view here.

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