Letter to Joseph Pizarchik, Director of the OFfice of Surface Mining - Hoosier Lawmakers Ask Interior Department to Reengage on Stream Protection Rule, As Required by Law


We write in support of the April 13, 2016, letter by the State of Indiana Department of Natural Resources (the Department) to you related to the refusal of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) to comply with the report language accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, P.L. 114-113. This report language (161 Cong. Rec. H10217, Dec. 17, 2015) requires OSM to reengage with states in a meaningful way before finalizing the Stream Protection Rule (SPR) by: (1) providing the states with all technical reports, data, analyses, comments received, and drafts relative to environmental reviews, draft environmental impacts statements (EIS), and final EIS; and (2) meeting with any state upon the request of the state.

As members of the Indiana Congressional delegation, we request that your agency fully comply with this Congressional directive by providing the Department with all documents called for in the report language that OSM has failed to provide previously, including the drafts of the environmental reviews and draft and final EIS. The Department will need to receive these documents and have the time necessary to review them before requesting a meeting with OSM prior to finalizing the SPR.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation Director Steven Weinzapfel noted in his recent letter that the Department is currently reviewing the documents that OSM provided on March 1, 2016. However, locating and accessing each document individually is a time-consuming process. Along with taking time away from running state regulatory programs, the continued failure to provide the Department with all information--including the draft environmental reviews and draft and final EIS--shows an unwillingness on the part of OSM to provide states with all the information used to develop the proposed SPR.

We understand that OSM offered to meet with states during the Interstate Mining Compact Commission's (IMCC) annual meeting on April 18, 2016, and during concurrent regional meetings on April 14 and 21, 2016, to discuss technical issues with the draft EIS, regulatory impact analysis (RIA) and the rule itself, but the technical staff needed for state regulators to discuss the rule in detail during these meetings was not available. To be clear, these meetings do not satisfy the directive in the report language. Regional meetings cannot satisfy a Congressional directive to meet with states individually at the request of the state. Not only did OSM fail to provide enough time for Indiana to review the materials recently made available prior to scheduling these regional meetings, a regional meeting with multiple states simply cannot provide enough time for each state to both adequately address concerns with the materials provided and offer meaningful input on how to amend the SPR and accompanying DEIS accordingly.

In order to fully comply with the report language, please provide a schedule for when you plan to make available all documents called for under the Omnibus Appropriations Report language, including all drafts relative to the draft and final EIS; when you plan to meet with Director Weinzapfel individually at his request after having provided all necessary documents and time to review them; and when you plan to reopen the public comment period for the proposed SPR and its associated draft and final EIS and RIA after having provided meaningful consultation with the Department.

We look forward to you engaging with Indiana and other states in a meaningful manner on the proposed Stream Protection Rule.