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Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler as 2nd at EPA

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 13, 2018
Yesterday the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a vote of 53-45. Democratic Senators Manchin (WV), Heitkamp (ND), and Donnelly (IN) broke party lines to vote in favor of Andrew Wheeler.  Neither Senator Duckworth (IL) nor Senator McCain (AZ) were in town to vote. Wheeler has been one of several controversial nominees President Trump has put forward to lead the EPA. The controversy stems from Wheeler's previous work both for as Chief of Staff for Senator Inhofe, a vocal climate change skeptic, and his work as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, a coal company. As Deputy Administrator Wheeler will be Administrator Pruitt's second in command of the EPA. Critics argued Wheeler's existing relationships made him unfit to help lead the agency in charge of protecting the environment. He was nominated in November and was voted out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) in February. This Administration continues to have many vacancies in important roles throughout the government. IMA-NA is happy to see Andrew Wheeler confirmed and hopes this allows the EPA to continue its important work unrestricted by gaps in staffing. 

Tags:  Administration  Andrew Wheeler  confirmation  EPA  nomination  Pruitt 

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MSHA Publishes Revised Final Workplace Examination Rule

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, April 9, 2018

MSHA published its revised final "Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines" rule in today's Federal Register. This final action amends a rule MSHA issued in January 2017.

The revised rule requires that:

  • A competent person examines each working place for adverse conditions. The working place must be examined at least once each shift, before work begins or as miners begin work in that place.
  • The operator must initiate appropriate corrective action.
  • The operator must promptly notify miners in the affected area if the adverse conditions are not corrected before miners are potentially exposed.
  • The operator must withdraw all persons from the affected area if the adverse condition may present an imminent danger.
  • The operator must create a record before the end of the shift, which must include:
    • The name of the person conducting the examination;
    • The location of all areas examined;
    • A description of each adverse condition identified that is not corrected promptly; and
    • The date when the described condition is corrected.
  •  The operator must make the record available to MSHA and the miners’ representatives.

 

MSHA will hold a series of six public meetings around the country to inform and educate the mining community about the requirements of the final rule.

  • May 1          Bloomington, IL
  • May 15        Birmingham, AL
  • May 17        Pittsburgh, PA
  • May 22        Reno, NV
  • May 24        Dallas, TX
  • May 31        Denver, CO

To read the final rule click here

To get more information on the public meetings click here

Tags:  examinations of working places  final rule  MSHA  Regulations  rulemaking  safety  safety and health 

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Please join IMA-NA staff this Friday, April 6th, at 1:00 EST for April's First Friday call. There are numerous important updates on both regulatory and legislative issues staff will be updating members on. From passage of the Omnibus to movement on infrastructure to WOTUS and the draft list of Critical Minerals there has been movement on multiple issues of interest to our industry.  

Click here to register

Tags:  first friday 

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IMA Successful at Obtaining Positive Report Language in the Omnibus for the Soda Ash Industry

Posted By Chris Greissing, Thursday, March 22, 2018
The Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations spending bill was released last night. IMA was successful in obtaining positive report language in the bill that directs the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to consider lowering the federal royalty rate for soda ash to 2%.

IMA has been extremely active in engaging with the House and Senate Leadership to include the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act in to the package.  The bill has significant bipartisan support, and would reduce the federal soda ash royalty rate from 6 percent to 2 percent for a period of 5 years.  

The need for the lower rate has never been greater for the U.S. soda ash producers.  The lower rates would allow the industry to regain its footing in the global marketplace, reinvest in U.S. soda ash plants, and increase the tax base as more jobs are created at the mine sites and throughout the supply chain.

IMA worked closely with both political parties, including the bill’s sponsors in the Senate, Senators Wyden and Barrasso, and our House supporters as well, key unions, such as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and several glass companies and the Glass Packaging Institute to encourage Leadership to include this in the final bill.  We would like to thank the bill's cosponsors and supporters in helping us achieve this success. 

There were quite a few legislative priorities from both parties that were unable to make it on to the bill, so we are very fortunate to have been included.  

Here is the relevant language.

“Soda Ash – The Committees are concerned about maintaining the United States’ global competitiveness in the production of natural soda ash.  The United States contains approximately 90 percent of the world’s natural soda ash deposits, while many international competitors are producing synthetic soda ash using more energy and generating higher emissions than natural soda ash production.  Therefore, the Committees expect the Bureau to consider using its authority to reduce the Federal royalty rate for soda ash to 2 percent.”

To see the full bill text, click here.
To view the report language, click here. (Bottom of p. 9)

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IMA-NA Comments on Draft List of Critical Minerals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, March 19, 2018

On February 16th, the Department of Interior published their Draft List of Critical Minerals. This Draft List is the next step in implementing President Trump's goals set in Executive Order 13817, “A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” issued on December 20, 2017. The Executive Order recognizes the importance of mineral commodities generally, but specifically certain mineral commodities vital to the security and prosperity of the United States. The Secretary of the Interior’s Draft List of Critical Minerals (“Draft List” or “List”) similarly recognizes the importance of mineral commodities generally, with a particular focus on 35 minerals or mineral material groups currently considered critical. 

It is important to note that the Draft List includes barite as a critical mineral. IMA-NA is clearly supportive of the inclusion of barite on the List, but also sees the development of a standard methodology for evaluating our mineral supply chain as a big step in the government prioritizing mineral resources. 

Click here to read IMA-NA's comments

Tags:  administration  barite  critical minerals  department of interior  DOI  minerals science  president  Regulations  Trump 

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Nominations for Surface Transportation Board

Posted By Chris Greissing, Monday, March 5, 2018
The Trump Administration announced two nominees to the Surface Transportation Board late on Friday.  

The President nominated Patrick J. Fuchs, a senior professional staffer on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  While on the Committee, Patrick worked extensively on surface transportation issues and helped shaped policy issues for the committee.  He graduated with distinction in economics and political science and earned an MPA from the University of Wisconsin.  We believe he will bring an expertise, leadership, common sense and fairness to the STB.  

The President also nominated Michelle Shultz, a deputy general counsel at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.  Michelle received a BA in English from Pennsylvania State University; a JD from Widener University School of Law; and a Master of Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Both nominations are for five-year terms.  They will go before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation for consideration and then before the full Senate for confirmation.  

IMA believes both nominations were positive for shippers.  We are hopeful that the confirmation process for both will be quick and smooth and that both will be seated on the Board in short order.

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Small Business Administration Regulatory Reform Roundtable Schedule

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, March 1, 2018

As part of the Administration's ongoing efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is conducting a series of Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables across the country. These Roundtables will provide another forum for the SBA to hear directly from small businesses about what regulations concern them the most. In March, the SBA will be convening meetings in the following cities:

· Detroit, Michigan;
· Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
· San Antonio, Texas;
· Houston Texas; and
· Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

Below you can find the information for each Roundtable as well as the links to RSVP. IMA-NA continues to be engaged in the conversation, highlighting regulations that impact our industry; but we encourage IMA-NA members to take advantage of the opportunity to speak directly to the SBA in your communities. 

Regulatory Reform Roundtables– March 2018 Schedule of Events

 

Tuesday, March 13th — Detroit, Michigan 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Woodward Ballroom at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Detroit Southfield, 28100 Franklin Road, Southfield, MI 48034

Information and Registration link

 

Friday , March 16th — Milwaukee, WI 

8:30 am - 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Schlitz Park, 1555 N Rivercenter Dr., Conference Room #3, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Information and Registration link

*SBA Administrator Linda McMahon will be in attendance

 

Monday, March 19th — San Antonio, TX 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

UTSA Downtown Campus, Durango Building, SBDC Training Room, 501 W. Cesar Chavez Blvd., San Antonio, Texas, 78207

Information and Registration link 

 

Tuesday, March 20th — Houston, TX 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Marriott West Loop by the Galleria, 1750 West Loop S., Houston, Texas, 77027

Information and Registration link

 

Thursday, March 22nd — Philadelphia, PA 

8:30 am – 12:30 pm Regulatory Reform Roundtable

Paul Peck Alumni Gallery at Drexel University, 32nd and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Information and Registration link

Tags:  administration  Regulations  regulatory agenda  SBA  Small Business Administration  Trump 

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First Friday Ask IMA - This Friday

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Please join IMA-NA staff this Friday, March 2nd, at 1:00 EST for March's First Friday call. There are several legislative and regulatory issues of import for staff to provide updates on. The release of the President's FY19 budget proposal, continued movement on WOTUS, the infrastructure package and other developments of interest to our industry will all be discussed. 

 

Click here to register

Tags:  first friday 

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Final Agency Action on CERCLA 108(b) Rulemaking

Posted By Mark Ellis, Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Through a Federal Register notice published today, EPA took final agency action on its rulemaking under Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) with respect to the hardrock mining industry.  EPA decided not to issue final regulations because the agency determined that final regulations are not appropriate.  EPA analyzed the need for financial responsibility based on the risk of taxpayer funded cleanups at hardrock mining facilities under modern management practices and modern environmental regulations, i.e., the type of facilities to which financial responsibility regulations would apply.  EPA determined that the degree and duration of risk associated with modern production, transportation, treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous substances does not present a level of risk of taxpayer funded response actions that warrant imposition of financial responsibility requirements for this sector.  The several billion dollars in financial assurance estimated under the proposed rule at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars would have severely impacted the mining industry in the U.S.  Today’s Federal Register notice is the agency’s final action on the proposed rule.  Environmental groups may challenge the agency’s final action, but given the broad discretion granted the EPA under the statute they will face an uphill battle.

A copy of the Federal Register notice is attached.


Download File (PDF)

Tags:  108(b)  CERCLA  EPA  hardrock mining  Superfund 

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President Trump Releases FY19 Budget Proposal & Congress Passes 2-Year Budget

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, February 12, 2018

This morning President Trump released his Administration's budget proposal for FY19. The Administration's budget comes on the heels of the passage of Congress's 2-year budget package. President Trump signed the deal into law Friday morning following it's passage late Thursday night. Congress's package raises budget caps by $300 billion in the next two years, increases the debt ceiling and includes nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Of the $300 billion, roughly $165 would go to the Pentagon with $131 billion earmarked for non-defense programs. 

President Trump's budget lays out plans for a $3.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years while simultaneously directing more funding to the Department of Defense. In many ways the FY19 budget proposal is similar to the FY18 proposal. It is interesting to note the Administration is pushing a focus on infrastructure across it's budget proposal, most likely as a way to sync the budget requests up with the infrastructure package. Below are some specific points of interest from the proposal, as each Department holds listening sessions IMA-NA staff will keep you updated on aspects of importance.

EPA

  • The Administration is asking for a further reduction of 34% in funding for the EPA. This would cap the Agency's budget at $5.4 billion for FY19. 
  • There is an emphasis on water infrastructure programs, to provide clean drinking water and provide necessary updates on wastewater infrastructure.
  • There is an increased focus on cooperative federalism as a way to improve EPA's enforcement efforts. This also includes a return to the EPA's core mission, and the continued defunding of "lower priority programs". 

Department of Commerce

  • The Administration is asking for $9.8 billion for the DOC, which would be an increase of 6% over FY17 enacted funding.
  • There is increased funding for the International Trade Administration to "allow ITA to conduct robust investigations into alleged trade violations, aggressively advocate for U.S. businesses facing tariff and non-tariff barriers abroad, and increase the capacity to closely review proposed foreign investments in U.S. businesses."
  • DOC's focus will continue to be promoting free and fair trade which has been a cornerstone of President Trump's vision for the country. 

Department of Labor

  • The Administration is asking for $9.4 billion for DOL, a $2.6 billion or 21-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level.
  • The President is asking for a budget of $376 for MSHA in FY19. The number is consistent with the FY18 request from the Administration.
  • There is a renewed focus on using DOL funding to help move the needle on workforce development. There is $200 million flagged for increasing apprenticeship programs, language to reform Job Corps, and simplify and consolidate existing federal workforce development programs. 

Department of Interior

  • The Administration is requesting $11.3 billion for DOI, which is a $2.2 billion or 16-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level.
  • The DOI will continue to focus on the President's call for Energy Dominance, working to manage development of public lands, increase revenues, and streamlining permits.
  • There is a focus on infrastructure in this request, noting that DOI manages an infrastructure portfolio valued at over $300 billion and much of it is in need of maintenance and investment.
  • Secretary Zinke gained the President's support to massively reorganize the Department. The budget asks for $18 million to fund the internal restructuring of DOI.
  • Funding for USGS is being cut by approximately $218 million overall, but the Administration asked for an increase of $11.5 million for the Minerals and Energy Resources Program.

To look at the President's Budget Proposal click here

Tags:  administration  budget  commerce  department of interior  EPA  msha  usgs 

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