Two Announcements from the Office of Surface Mining

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is hosting a series of open houses related to the scope of an Environmental Impact Statement for use in writing a new stream protection rule. Two events will be held in West Virginia and one in Kentucky. See the full schedule and announcement here. Additionally, those who are unable to attend can submit comments via email to sra-eis@osmre.gov or by postal mail:

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

Administrative Record

Room 252–SIB 1951

Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20240

Public comment periods allow for community members to make their voices heard and understand more about the agency rule-making processes. Please spread the word about the chance for all viewpoints to be heard at these Open Houses to members of your communities.

Additionally, the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources (DNR) announced the receipt of nearly $330,000 from the Office of Surface Mining relating to monitoring water quality throughout the Commonwealth. Linda Potter and Richard Wahrer, the contacts for this press release, can be reached at 502-564-6940. The text of the press release:

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) has awarded the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources (DNR) two grants totaling $327,888 to fund activities crucial for the monitoring of water quality in several watersheds in the Commonwealth.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) sets limits on certain parameters (such as acidity, alkalinity, sulfates, conductivity and iron) that have the potential to adversely impact water quality. To ascertain and predict the parameters and activities responsible, OSM and DNR will utilize the first grant to establish trend stations or sampling points at 200 locations in the eastern coalfield and 37 in the western coalfield. Water samples will be collected two to four times a year and added to a database that can be used by the public and regulatory agencies. Analysis of the data will enable DNR to measure trends in the parameters that will reflect the impact that activities such as road construction, oil and gas development and mining are having on the watershed.

The permitting process for any surface mining operation requires a Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessment (CHIA). The trend station data will provide a valuable component for these assessments. The second grant enables DNR to hire six student interns to expedite the CHIA effort. Geology and aquatic biology students from Kentucky’s universities will fill these positions.

According to DNR Commissioner Carl Campbell, these awards allow the department and its counterparts at OSM to ensure that the watersheds in Kentucky’s coalfields are protected.

“The analysis of this data will help us determine the extent to which mining and other activities may affect the watersheds. Our goal is to minimize any negative impacts to these areas. The state appreciates OSM’s financial commitment to help reach this goal.”

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.