March 31, 2014
In This Issue
The Silica Hearing
NISA, IDPA and IMA-NA Testify at the OSHA Public Hearing on Silica
Safety
IMA-­NA CASE STUDY #6: Wyo-Ben Involves the People that Count to Improve Safety Performance
IMA-NA Advocacy
EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Release Proposed Rule Drastically Expanding Scope of CWA
IMA-NA Letter to CASAC on Ozone
Tax Update
Bipartisan Legislation Energy Legislation Passes House
MSHA
MSHA PPL on Examination of Working Places
MSHA PPL on Safety Belts and Lines
Contractors
Operators Must Report Accidents of Contract Employees
WEBINAR: Acquisitions and Divestitures in Mining
2014 Spring Meeting
Just for Laughs!
Reference
Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals New Release
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The Silica Hearing
 
NISA, IDPA and IMA-NA Testify at the OSHA Public Hearing on Silica
During a 14-day marathon hearing at the Department of Labor in Washington, DC, lasting from March 18th to April 4th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been listening to witnesses from industry, labor and the public health community testify on the proposed standard on crystalline silica.  Testimony has spanned from one extreme to the other and included total support, total opposition, constructive criticism and occasional drama.  The National Industrial Sand Association (NISA) provided its testimony on March 19th.  Representing NISA were Andy O’Brien (Unimin) and Mark Ellis (NISA).  NISA did an outstanding job of presenting the details of the NISA Solution (view a blog post from labor interests here that demonstrates the appeal of the NISA Solution).
 
The International Diatomite Producers Association (IDPA) presented its testimony also on March 19th (presented by Kenneth Mundt, PhD, ENVIRON International Corporation, and Mark Ellis), and the Industrial Minerals Association - North America (represented by Mark Ellis), presented testimony on March 27th.  IDPA made the case that cristobalite should be treated the same as quartz, and IMA-NA seconded the positions articulated by IDPA and NISA, including the NISA Solution.
 
To view the testimony and other documents from all three organizations, click here.
 
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Safety
 
IMA-­NA CASE STUDY #6: Wyo-Ben Involves the People that Count to Improve Safety Performance
Wyo-Ben has focused for the past year on employee participation in their Value-Based Safety Process in order to improve individual employee safety behaviors.  An employee-based observation program was initiated that involved employees selecting a high-risk area for observations and safe behaviors vs. at-risk behaviors were charted for several months.  
 
To learn more, click here.
 
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IMA-NA Advocacy
 
EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Release Proposed Rule Drastically Expanding Scope of CWA
On March 25th, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposed rule that would redefine the scope of federal power under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The rule appears to drastically expand federal jurisdiction of water at the expense of the states.  The issue of jurisdiction is significant because if a water falls under federal jurisdiction, all CWA programs, such as permitting, are triggered.  The proposal will extend CWA jurisdiction to all natural and artificial tributaries, including impoundments and wetlands adjacent to or near larger downstream waters, ditches, ephemeral drainages, ponds (natural or man-made), prairie potholes, seeps, flood plains, and other occasionally or seasonally wet areas.  House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has indicated that the Administration would not receive money to support its proposed rule without first providing cost estimates and other details.  Chairman Rogers believes this rule is overly burdensome and that the economic impact of the power grab by EPA would be “absolutely profound.”  Many other Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle have come out against this proposal, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who said this was “yet another example of this agency (EPA) overreaching and stepping outside of its bounds without thought to the economic consequences of its actions” (see full statement here).  
 
To view the proposed rule, click here.
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IMA-NA Letter to CASAC on Ozone
IMA-NA has joined a broad coalition of industry associations on a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee  (CASAC).  The letter indicates our great concern that the implementation of a stricter ozone standard could lead to astronomical costs to U.S. businesses, disrupt energy markets and place a considerable strain on a still-recovering economy and job market.  The letter encourages the CASAC to adhere to their statutory responsibilities and consider the economic costs when establishing a new national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS).  This letter was necessary because earlier in the process Chairman Frey stated that he did not believe consideration of potentially adverse effects of a new standard “were…really part of the review cycle.”  However, the statute is quite clear that the committee shall “advise the Administrator of any adverse public health, welfare, social, economic, or energy effects which may result from various strategies for attainment and maintenance of such national ambient air quality standards.”
 
To view the letter, click here.
 
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Tax Update
Both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have released draft proposals for a major tax overhaul.  It is highly unlikely that these proposals will move forward in either chamber this year, and even less likely that a compromise agreement would be reached that would make it to the President’s desk.  The chances for a major tax overhaul took a further hit when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus retired from the Senate a year early to become the new Ambassador to China.  The new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has decided to steer the Committee away from a major tax overhaul and is more focused on passing legislation that would extend a series of tax credits for the business community which expired at the end of 2013, including: the research credit, active financing exception, small-business exception, and leasehold depreciation.  Other provisions that are less likely to be included are the bonus depreciation and tax credit for renewable energy.  The latter of which could get included if paired with other energy priorities of the Republicans.  The biggest question on the “tax extenders” is whether or not Congress will need to abide by the “Pay For” provision.  If so, offsets would be needed to pay for the roughly $50 billion in costs.  Despite the long odds of the major proposal moving forward this year, IMA-NA, along with a broad coalition of natural resource trade associations, will continue to urge Congress to reject the unwarranted provision in the proposal that would repeal the percentage depletion deduction.  
 
This will be a key area that IMA members focus on during hill visits at the Spring meeting in May.   For more information on that meeting, click here.
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Bipartisan Legislation Energy Legislation Passes House
The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 3826, The Electricity Security and Affordability Act, by a vote of 229-183.  The bipartisan legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set a more reasonable path forward for regulating power plant emissions.  Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S.1905.  IMA-NA, along with numerous other trade associations, is a member of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future.  The Partnership has supported a unified strategy and message in response to the Obama Administration’s greenhouse gas regulatory agenda.  The Partnership has been very active in its support of legislation like H.R. 3826, and will continue to be vocal in its support of commonsense regulations and legislation that will promote a stronger foundation for our nation’s energy and economic system.  
 
To view H.R. 3826, click here.  
To view the letter sent in support of H.R. 3826, click here.
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MSHA
 
MSHA PPL on Examination of Working Places
MSHA has issued a Program Policy Letter (PPL) that provides its interpretation of the Examination of Working Places.  The purpose of the PPL is to clarify that the examination of working places required under 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.18002 includes the requirement that the operator shall examine each working place at least once each shift for conditions which adversely affect safety or health and a record of the examination be maintained which shall be made available for review by the Secretary or his authorized representative.
 
To view the PPL, click here.
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MSHA PPL on Safety Belts and Lines
MSHA has issued a PPL that provides its interpretation of Safety Belts and Lines.  The purpose of the PPL is to clarify compliance with safety belts and lines as required under 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.15005 to enhance consistency and protection of miners.  MSHA states “In many cases, compliance with OSHA's fall protection standard will satisfy the requirements of MSHA's 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.15005 standard.  MSHA will evaluate all work area hazards to ensure appropriate fall protection provisions are in place to protect miners from fall hazards”.
 
To read the PPL, click here.
 
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Contractors
 
Operators Must Report Accidents of Contract Employees
According to a ruling of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, mine operators have a duty to report accidents to MSHA when contractor employees are injured at the operator’s mine site.  The 4th Circuit ruling upholds the Jan. 16, 2013 decision of Administrative Law Judge Jerold Feldman that Alpha Natural Resources’ Dickenson-Russell Coal Company should have reported a contractor injury.  MSHA likely will apply this case precedent nationally.
 
To view the Decision, click here.
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WEBINAR: Acquisitions and Divestitures in Mining
In today’s business environment, acquisitions and divestitures seem to occur on a daily basis.  Like their counterparts in other industries, mining companies also acquire and divest businesses and assets.  While a number of issues are common to all acquisitions and divestitures, mining presents its own particular risks.  Any mining company that is contemplating, or that may in the future contemplate, buying or selling a mining business or asset should be well aware of those risks.
 
Date:
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT
 
Cost: 
$39/person for IMA members
$69/person for non-members
 
Click here to register.
 
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2014 Spring Meeting
Save the Date
Registration for the IMA-NA 2014 Spring meeting is now open.  Click here.

To view the program, click here.


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Just for Laughs!
 


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Reference
 
Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals New Release
Chapter 3 of the Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals is now online and available for download; Rare Earth Elements Deposits in New Mexico by Virginia McLemore.  The Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals will be published online as Arizona Geological Survey Special Paper 9. Individual chapters (i.e.: papers) will be released independently upon submittal of the final approved copy.  The 48th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals was held in Scottsdale, Arizona, April 30 - May 4, 2012.  The Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals has been held annually since its inception by the late Professor Robert Bates of Ohio State University nearly 50 years ago.
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