Coal, Hardrock and Uranium Committee Update – October 2018

Office of Surface Mining and Enforcement, Western Region
Dave Berry, Regional Director of the Office of Surface Mining and Enforcement, Western Region, updated the committee about his agency’s focus on the overall Department of Interior reorganization efforts.  At this time, the reorganization will create six regions in the western region of coordinated agency efforts, and 12 regions nationwide. The Department’s first reorganization efforts were criticized by western governors and the Department has listened to those issues.

Berry expressed strong support for President Trump’s Administration efforts to streamline permitting of activities on federal lands and efforts to strengthen relationships between federal regulatory agencies such as OSM and state partners such as DRMS.

Committee members posed a number of questions as well as offering commendation for efforts by the agency to its approach in handling a number of issues. The committee also discussed the agency’s implementation of recent changes to the Reclamation Cost Estimates which the agency is phasing in on lands the agency has jurisdiction on reflecting changes to equipment use hours.

CMA appreciates David’s appearance at the committee meeting.

Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety
Michael Cunningham presented the minerals program update beginning with the agency’s review of draft legislation changing hardrock reclamation permitting debated last legislative session that will be discussed at the September 27, 2018 legislative Water Resources Interim Committee. Last year’s bill sponsor, Representative Dylan Roberts (D), intends to ask the Committee to adopt the bill as a part of the Committee’s package of bills. CMA is reviewing the bill, which appears to be similar to last year’s House Bill 1301. There are several changes that we are analyzing.  If the bill is not adopted as an interim committee bill, we believe the sponsor intends to introduce it in 2019.

Jim Stark, Director of the DRMS Coal Program reported the Mined Land Reclamation Board will hear a presentation on the Reclamation Cost Estimate calculations at its September meeting (delayed until October), and work continues to develop a survey of contractors the Division works with to better understand how many hours equipment is used for the purposes of calculating reclamation cost estimates.

Monthly reports from DRMS are a key component of our Coal, Hardrock and Uranium Committee as members benefit from hearing the latest news from the coal and mineral programs.

Mark Chalmers, CEO of Energy Fuels, who was recently appointed to the CMA Board, reported on his company’s petition that CMA supports asking the United States to investigate the world-wide uranium market as uranium is a critical U.S. mineral for both electric generation and fuel for submarines.