WPCAMR

Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Quarterly Meeting Minutes

Aug 10, 2006

Crooked Creek Park, Armstrong CD Environmental Center

 

In attendance:

Bob Eppley (President)

Bruce Golden (Staff)

Jim Panaro (Secretary)

Greg Phillips (Treasurer)

Garry Price (319 Grant Advisor)

Andy McAllister (Staff)

Jeff Gerard (Staff)

 

Ron Horansky, DEP
Jeff Filss, DEP
Dennis Hawley, Armstrong CD
Dave Rupert, Armstrong CD
Mark Killar, WPC
LeeRoy Vatter, Indiana CD
Pam Meade, Armstrong CD
Jim Resh, Indiana CD
Chris ?, Armstrong CD
Erin Dunleavy, Clinton CD
Dick Smith, Beaver CD
Rob Cronauer, Westmoreland CD 

 

Meeting was called to order by Bob Eppley at 10:15 am , who chaired the meeting.

 

Greg offered the minutes from the previous quarterly meeting held Date for discussion.Motion to accept minutes as presented made by Vatter/Smith .Motion passed.

 

Greg read the treasurerís report.Motion to accept the treasurerís report by Smith/Vatter passed.

 

 

Bruce Golden presented the Regional Coordinator’s report. See attached. The following discussions were related to topics in that report.

Funding for 2007 AMR Conference

Jim Resh suggested a WREN grant. Bruce said it costs $9,000 to $10,000 to host a conference. A suggestion was for both WPCAMR and EPCAMR to apply separately for funding; The WPA Watershed Program is likely to contribute about $4000. Jeff Fliss suggested having a big watershed conference with the WPA Conservancy, which would include an AMD branch. Pam Meade mentioned that the League of Women Voters (WREN) could put in a grant for up to $5000.

AMR Fund Reauthorization

Abandoned Mine Fund legislation (S.2616) was attached to estate tax/minimum wage bill, which did not pass. We still have some time to work for funding, because the SMCRA per ton reclamation fee continues until September 2007. The overall approach is to attach the language of S.2616 to another bill rather than a stand-alone bill to gain support in the session prior to the election. A lot of support has been garnered over the past year for this overall approach including Wyoming, sportsman’s groups, UMWA, coal companies. WPCAMR is working with the “AML Campaign,” a loose coalition of environmental organizations in PA spearheaded by John Dawes of WPWP. Details of the  S.2616 language were discussed. If S.2616 passes, PA would get almost $1 billion over 15 years.

319 Funding

WPCAMR recently received an executed contract for the 2006/07 fiscal year. Funding is constant at $125,000. Starting next cycle, we’ll have to go through the Growing Greener application process instead on a competitive basis. Garry Price clarified all applications go to both the 319 program and Growing Greener II.

Growing Greener Grants

Next year, Growing Greener applications will ask if the applicant prefers GGI or GGII money. Whenever 2006 GG grants are announced, Greg Phillips suggested that WPCAMR request from DEP’s Central Office a breakdown of GG monies that go toward mining-related projects. Jeff Fliss thought this would probably be in the grant announcement anyway, but if not, he agreed with Greg; Growing Greener II is running low, to the point that some high-priority projects may not be funded. Quite a few people felt that GGII has fallen significantly short of what was being hyped and are very disappointed (and angry) after all the support that had been garnered in helping it pass. Some discussion centered around formally expressing concern on the state of affairs, but itwas decided to await for the GG announcements for more concrete information.

Bob Eppley inquired why so many grants were funded by $1 from Growing Greener I and the remaining amount by Growing Greener II. No one seemed to know. It seems especially odd in light of the DEP policy of not doing split funding.

VISTAs WPCAMR has applied for a second OSM/VISTA position, which will be split 50/50 with the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team. The new person will do PR, outreach to watershed organizations, WPCAMR board development, and more. The 319 program has agreed to fund this position with the surplus in the 05/06 WPCAMR budget brought about by the Watershed Coordinator’s position being vacant for several months..

Because of the workload of administering eight separate DEP grants, Bruce purchased “forms” software (Omniform) which has resulted in considerable improvements in efficiency.

The Quick Response Program is a GGII $350k grant to WPCAMR which in turn provides emergency repairs for GG2-eligible projects. With only 20% ($70k) working capital advance from DEP, this presents a potential cashflow problem for WPCAMR if enough requests are made simultaneously given that funds are replenished only on a reimbursement basis. WPCAMR could very well become a bottleneck on funding because of cash-flow issues. Greg expressed dismay that this program can be used for non-mine-related projects and that there is no administrative overhead built in for WPCAMR. Bruce noted that because this is GG II funding the alternative is turning the funding down and having no emergency response program. He also noted that the project had morphed over time from a mining only project to a broader one. There is no monetary cap on any single project.

Contracts are now in place between WPCAMR and each of the 3 AMD PA 04 Innovative Projects Grants contractors: Hedin Environmental, Iron Oxide Technologies, and Winner Environmental.

The decision-maker and technical assistance grant programs are both complete and we are waiting on final paperwork from DEP.

15% GG Match

Bruce reported he testified before the CAC, criticizing the 15% match requirement for construction-type projects. DEP Secretary Katie McGinty has explained in another CAC meeting that the match requirement was added because GG has limited money: there are only three more rounds of GG2. If the DEP notices some projects are getting shut out as a result of this match requirement, DEP will rethink the match. Bob Eppley noted that some watershed groups won’t even submit applications because of the match and other GG requirements, so DEP wouldn’t even see that they’re getting shut out. Jim Resh said PACD submitted a resolution to Sec. McGinty to that effect.

Miscellaneous

A lengthy discussion centered around limestone sand addition as a relatively inexpensive way to increase alkalinity in streams. Jeff Fliss had concerns of situations where the increased alkalinity would cause metals precipitation in stream stretches which had not previously experienced the precipitation. Technically that might be considered a violation of the Clean Streams Act.

There will be a media event and dedication of the Cessna Run passive treatment system on August 22.

Every PA county receives County Environmental Initiative Program Funds through Growing Greener II.

Mark Killar suggested that WPCAMR might send delegates to discussions about Mahoning Creek and the Clarion River, both of which have AMD problems.

Appalachian Reforestation Commission: Amerikohl will be doing a pilot project where they remove the topsoil and plant trees.

Happy birthday to Dick Smith!

Greenforge building: Greg said WPCAMR is expected to move to the new Greenforge building in October or November. This will be a “green” building with LEED certification.

Andy McAllister presented the WPCAMR Watershed Coordinator report. See attached.

Jeff Gerard presented his OSM VISTA progress report. See attached.

WPCAMR future directions: Bob Eppley, Bruce Golden, and Greg Phillips want WPCAMR to expand its contact and outreach to watershed groups. The new OSM/VISTA will be pursuing other sources of funding. WPCAMR would also like to periodically evaluate Bruce’s and Andy’s positions with respect to the organization’s strategic plan. Greg encouraged more board oversight. Gary Price encouraged closer ties with EPCAMR. Finally, Bob noted that the increase of administrative overhead for grants and working with government agencies strains environmental organizations, including WPCAMR.

Greg suggested a WPCAMR 25 year reunion pig roast inviting those who had been involved in the Coalition's evolution. Greg said he'd be glad to take the lead.

The consensus was this is a very nice idea and Greg was encouraged to proceed. Bruce thanked Dave Rupert, Dennis Hawley, and Chris for allowing the Coalition to use the Armstrong County Crooked Creek Park facilities for this meeting

 

On a motion by Vatter, the meeting was adjourned at 1:50 pm .

 

Minutes taken and assembled by Jeff Gerard, Bruce Golden.