PAC Provides Comments to EQB on Changes to Anthracite Haul Road Definition

The Pennsylvania Anthracite Council has provided comments to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) on a proposed regulatory change.

The EQB is proposing to amend the Chapter 88.1 Haul Road definition to include the following language: “The term includes public roads that are used as an integral part of the coal mining activity.” The amendment is being made at the request of the DEP which claims the language change is necessary to bring the state’s program into consistency with Federal Office of Surface Mining regulation language.

In its comments to the EQB, the PAC acknowledged the Department’s desire to amend the language of the regulation to mirror that of current Federal SMCRA language. However, the use of the term “public roads” causes some concern to the anthracite industry. Specifically, the PAC is concerned that the term “public roads” is very broad and could be used to impose additional bonding and other fees on common use public roads that are shared by thousands of other business concerns.

In conversations with the PAC, the Department has sought to address those concerns noting the new language does not affect or change any current regulatory enforcement. Rather the language is simply being added to bring the regulations into consistency with Federal OSM guidelines.

To address its concerns, the PAC suggested the EQB adopt language to the Preamble of the regulation. Specifically, the PAC suggested the following language be added to provide additional clarity to the regulation.

“Integral part of the coal mining activity” is intended to address mining activities that normally would not occur on a public road. This would involve any use of the public road by off-road vehicles or equipment that cannot be licensed for on-road use. The length of the public road to be defined as a haul road is limited to the length of the public road used for travel by vehicles or equipment that are an “integral part of the coal mining activity.” Any use of a public road by licensed on road vehicles would not be considered an integral part of the coal mining activity unless they exceed legal posted weight limits or otherwise do not meet legal state or local restrictions upon use the public road.

The comment period ended on November 30th. The DEP will prepare a response document to all written comments.

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