Monday, June 26, 2017

House Passes Bill Extending Temporary Cessation Of Surface Coal Mine Operations For Years

The House Monday voted 163 to 33 to pass House Bill 1333 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) eliminating the current DEP limit on how long surface mine operators can temporarily cease mining operations from 180 days to the federal standard of what could be up to five years.
Rep. Gabler said this measure was necessary because the Pennsylvania coal industry is experiencing severe economic hardships.
While the legislation says the mine operator remains responsible for all permit obligations, clearly in this economic climate for coal, this bill would give mine operators license to simply disappear without reclaiming the site.
In May of last year, the PA Environmental Council sent a letter to Gabler and then to all members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee expressing significant concerns with the legislation.
While recognizing the current market challenges faced by the coal industry, PEC said it was concerned about the risk of adding to Pennsylvania’s coal mining-related environmental liabilities if appropriate safeguards are not put in place during the cessation of operations.
Without these safeguards, PEC said, these liabilities could ultimately be borne by Commonwealth taxpayers if an operator elects not to restart mining activity or declares bankruptcy.  (Click Here for more.)
The bill now goes to the Senate for action.  A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.

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