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House Oversight Hearing of MSHA

Posted By Mark Ellis, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on “Reviewing the Policies and Priorities of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).”  The sole witness was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David G. Zatezalo.  Subcommittee Chairman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) stressed that mine safety remains a priority of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, highlighting an interest in examining the regulatory agenda of MSHA and how MSHA intends to work with industry stakeholders to promote policies and practices that protect mine workers and encourage economic growth.  His opening remarks can be accessed through this link.  Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-CA) observed that this was the first hearing the subcommittee has held on MSHA in approximately 2½ years.  He highlighted a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association identifying a high incidence of progressive massive fibrosis in patients in Black Lung clinics in southern West Virginia, a theme taken up by other subcommittee Democrats.  During his testimony, Assistant Secretary Zatezalo discussed the current state of workplace safety within the mining industry, and how MSHA can strengthen American mining and ensure worker safety.  He highlighted a personal interest in addressing recent fatalities associated with powered haulage equipment.  His written testimony can be accessed through this link.


Tags:  Assistant Secretary David Zatezalo  House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections  MSHA 

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USGS Releases Annual Mineral Commodity Summaries

Posted By RJ Alpers, Thursday, February 1, 2018

On Wednesday, January 31, the USGS released its annual Mineral Commodity Summaries. The 2017 results show that U.S. mines produced estimated $75.2billion of raw mineral materials, a 6 percent increase over 2016. The $75.2 billion in nonfuel mineral production by U.S. mines this year is made up of industrial minerals, including aggregates, and metals. The USGS National Minerals Information Center report includes statistics on more than 90 mineral commodities that are important to the U.S. economy and national security. The report also identifies events, trends and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries. We encourage all to view the summary article and link to the report here.

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First Friday Ask IMA - Tomorrow Afternoon

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

Please join IMA-NA staff tomorrow, February 2nd, at 1:00 EST for February's First Friday call.  2018 is off to a big start with developments across the regulatory and legislative agenda. This month's call comes right on the heels of the State of the Union and several rapid changes on the WOTUS front. We hope you can join as we look forward to updating everyone on what staff is focusing on in DC and issues we see on the horizon.

Click here to register 

Tags:  first friday  outreach 

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EPA and Corps Finalize WOTUS Applicability Date

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Today, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced they have finalized the WOTUS applicability date proposal. The importance of the finalization of this extension of the applicability of the 2015 WOTUS rule cannot be understated. Last week's Supreme Court ruling opened the possibility for the 2015 Rule to go into effect, once the 6th District's nationwide stay was lifted.  Since the nationwide stay was issued, waters have continued to be protected under the pre-existing WOTUS definition and state rules, and the government has issued over 21,000 determinations establishing federal jurisdiction under the pre-existing WOTUS definition.  Luckily Administrator Pruitt and the EPA had the foresight to issue a proposal to push the applicability of the 2015 Rule for two years, while the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers propose and finalize a new version and interpretation of "waters of the US". Just last week the applicability proposal was sent over to OMB for review and there was a question whether the Administration would be able to finalize the applicability date in time.

This rule is a prudent and measured step to preserve the status quo and provide regulatory continuity for all stakeholders while EPA and the Corps engage in rulemaking to consider whether to repeal the 2015 rule and, if so, how to replace the 2015 Rule with a new well-founded, protective, and clear definition of WOTUS.

IMA-NA and our coalition partners are pleased by the EPA’s and the Corps’ quick action to avoid needless regulatory uncertainty and legal risk for mining and farming operations, developers, small businesses, and other land owners.  Absent this action by the agencies, the result would be months of additional litigation, regulatory chaos, and legal risk for countless land owners. 

To read the Final Rule click here

To read the Press Release click here

Tags:  Army Corps of Engineers  Clean Water Act  EPA  Regulations  Regulators  WOTUS 

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EPA Announces Withdrawal of "once-in, always-in" policy

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, January 29, 2018

On Friday, the EPA announced the withdrawal of a decades old classification policy under the Clean Air Act. The policy of "once-in, always-in" has been the standard for designating sources of air emissions as either "major sources" or "area sources", since 1995. The EPA defines the two classifications in the following manner: 

a “major source” as a one that emits, or has the potential to emit, 10 tons per year of any hazardous air pollutant, or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of hazardous air pollutants. Sources with emissions below this threshold are classified as “area sources.” Different control standards apply to the source depending on whether or not it is classified as a “major source” or an “area source.”

The policy of "once-in, always-in" meant that if sources crossed the threshold into the major source designation, the facility could never be considered an area source again. Stakeholders have argued this policy disincentivizes companies from working towards lowering their emissions once they've been classified as "major sources". The ability for companies and facilities to bring their emissions down to lower levels and have their status reflect those efforts is a positive step in providing more regulatory flexibility. The EPA hopes this will incentivize emissions reductions and will reduce regulatory inefficiency and burden. Opponents of this decision hold the opinion this change in policy is simply loosening air emissions standards for polluters. 

IMA-NA is supportive of EPA's ongoing work to update and revise their regulatory framework to provide commonsense policies that balance environmental protections with good business practices.

To read the press release click here

Tags:  clean air act  environment  EPA  Regulations  regulatory agenda 

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Supreme Court Rules on the Waters of the US Case

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Monday, January 22, 2018

This morning the Supreme Court issued their ruling in the Waters of the US case related to which courts have jurisdictional primacy in challenges to the Clean Water Act. The Court was of the unanimous opinion that challenges must be reviewed in federal district courts first rather than in the appeals courts. The promulgation of the 2015 Clean Water Rule set off litigation across the country in both district and appeals courts. The Supreme Court decision provides clarity on where to go to resolve disputes. The choice of court is significant because it affects the resources needed to litigate the merits of challenges, sets the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits and helps determine whether actions can be challenged in subsequent civil or criminal proceedings.

The court found in favor of the National Association of Manufacturers, who brought the suit along with several states, industrial stakeholders, and some environmental groups. The Administration and some other environmental groups were on the losing side of this decision. This outcome complicates the current push to repeal and replace the 2015 Rule. With this ruling the 6th District's nationwide stay is thrown into question. While EPA Administrator Pruitt took action to prevent the immediate implementation of the 2015 Rule, in the event of this decision from the Supreme Court, next steps are uncertain at this point. The EPA issued a proposal in December to add a so-called applicability date to the regulation, meaning it could not be enforced until 2020. This proposal should theoretically provide the EPA enough time to finish and finalize a new version of the Clean Water Rule, without the 2015 Rule being enforceable in the interim. As we have been from the beginning IMA-NA and the Waters Advocacy Coalition will remain engaged as the next steps become clearer.

To read the Supreme Court opinion click here

Tags:  Clean Water Act  EPA  regulation  Regulations  SCOTUS  supreme court  wotus 

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IMA and NISA Sign Letter to Trump Administration Encouraging the Nomination of Members to the STB

Posted By Chris Greissing, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA) and National Industrial Sand Association (NISA) are members of the Rail Customer Coalition (RCC).  The RCC is a large collection of trade associations representing a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural, and energy industries that depend on the railroads to deliver reliable and affordable service in order to remain competitive in a global market.  

The RCC has sent a letter to the Trump Administration encouraging the Administration to nominate new members and a permanent Chair to serve on the Surface Transportation Board (STB).  It is imperative that we have a fully-staffed STB committed to moving forward on freight rail policy reforms that will streamline overly burdensome regulatory procedures and promote greater competition in the rail sector.  There are currently only two of the five STB positions filled and no permanent chair causing progress to stall.  

A total of 72 associations and companies signed on to the letter, including IMA, NISA and several of our member companies.  IMA and NISA will continue to work within the coalition to promote commonsense solutions to the transportation issues our member companies are currently facing.  

The letter is attached.

 Attached Files:

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FERC Rejects Proposed Rule to Reinvigorate Coal and Nuclear Production

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, January 10, 2018

On January 8th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) unanimously rejected Secretary of Energy Perry's proposal for new regulations that would favor nuclear and coal powered energy production. Secretary Perry proposed the "Grid Reliability and Resilience Pricing" rulemaking as a way to address our national electric grid's reliability, but the move was seen as a way to help the two energy sectors that have been struggling recently. In the proposal, FERC was asked to favor power plants capable of storing a 90-day fuel supply on site, unlike renewable energy or natural gas plants. IMA-NA and NISA joined other stakeholders in asking FERC to reject the proposal on the grounds it would interfere with market forces by propping up older and less efficient plants that are struggling to compete with new energy sources. Specifically, this move would have handicapped the growing natural gas industry in the United States. Natural gas is a growing industry and one that provides low cost energy across the country for industrial, commercial, and individual consumers. IMA-NA is pleased with FERC's decision to reject this proposal.  It should be noted though, that the Commission initiated a new rule to look at the resilience of the electric grid in a more "holistic fashion". FERC has requested regional transmission operators submit information and materials to help the Commission decide what, if any, course of action is necessary to improve the resilience of the grid. Operators have 60 days to submit materials. 

To read the decision click here

To read the comments IMA-NA & NISA signed onto click here

Tags:  DOE  energy  FERC  natural gas  Regulations  Secretary Perry 

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IMA-NA Comments on MSHA Diesel RFI

Posted By Mark Ellis, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Yesterday IMA-NA filed comments on MSHA’s Request for Information on Exposure to Diesel Exhaust of Underground Miners (RFI).  The comments have their basis in the responses IMA-NA has filed to date on the RFI, but primarily address the work of the NIOSH-MSHA Diesel Exhaust Health Effects Partnership (Partnership) and its meeting on September 19, 2017.  The comments address the fact that the RFI and the Partnership began under the Obama Administration and are proceeding under the Trump Administration.  They seek to reflect an ongoing, proactive IMA-NA commitment to reducing diesel emissions exposures and to the Partnership process.  Background information on the Partnership can be accessed through the following link:  https://www.msha.gov/regulations/rulemaking/diesel-exhaust-health-effects-partnership.

 

In the Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda MSHA did not indicate that it intended to extend the comment period on the RFI beyond the end of the current comment period on January 9.  The IMA-NA comments request that the RFI comment period be kept open for public comment indefinitely or, if need be, extended to at least January 9, 2019, contemplating subsequent extensions as warranted.  The principal reason for doing so is to allow continued commentary on the work of the Partnership in what may, or may not, ultimately be a rulemaking record.

 

The comments on MSHA’s RFI on Exposure to Diesel Exhaust in Underground Miners are attached.


Download File (PDF)

Tags:  diesel  health effects  MSHA  NIOSH  Partnership 

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IMA-NA Comments on ESA Mitigation Policies

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On January 5th, IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS or Service) in response to the request for comments on the Service's current Endangered Species Act (ESA) mitigation policies. The request comes as each Department and Agency is reviewing regulations to carry out President Trump's Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The Service was specifically looking at the change in the mitigation policy under President Obama to recommend or require "net conservation gain" as the standard for mitigation plans. IMA-NA and NISA submitted comments urging the Service to remove the "net conservation gain" standard as it creates the opportunity for the costs of mitigation plans to grow exponentially without a clear outline of the limitations. Along with other industry groups we also feel the standard creates greater confusion and a lack of consistency for the implementation of mitigation programs across the country. Additionally, the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) submitted comments urging the removal of "net conservation gain" from the FWS standards because it is inconsistent with the "no net loss" standard set by the Clean Water Act section 404 permitting rules. WAC argues "net conservation gain" could greatly disrupt and delay the permitting process due to the inconsistency.

To read the IMA-NA and NISA comments click here

To read the Waters Advocacy Coalition comments click here

Tags:  comments  CWA  ESA  FWS  mitigation policy  Regulations  WAC 

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