United States
Office of the
[Mail Code 1802]
September 2000
Project  XL:  Pennsylvania
Department  of  Environmental
Protection  Coal  Remining  and
Reclamation  Project
 Project XL, which stands for "excellence and Leadership," is a national initiative that
 tests innovative ways of achieving better and more cost-effective public health and
 environmental protection. The information and lessons learned from Project XL are
 being used to assist the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in redesigning
 its current regulatory and policy-setting approaches. Project XL encourages testing of
 cleaner, cheaper, and smarter ways to attain environmental results superior to those
 achieved under current regulations and policies, in conjunction with  greater
 accountability to stakeholders. It is vital that each project tests new ideas with the
 potential for wide application and broad environmental benefits. As  of September
 2000, over thirty pilot experiments are being implemented and several additional
 projects are in various stages of development.

 The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) has proposed
 this XL project to explore a new way of encouraging coal operators to remine and
 reclaim abandoned coal mine sites. Currently, remining and reclamation activities  are
 subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements
 under the Clean Water Act  These requirements set numeric effluent limits at
 individual discharge points.  Under the current system, potential coal operators run the
 risk of exceeding effluent limits due to pre-existing acidic discharges from closed
 mines. In this XL project, PADEP proposes to replace numeric effluent limits at
 individual discharge points for pre-existing discharges, with  requirements to use Best
 Management Practices (BMPs) as well as to comply with in-stream pollutant
 concentration limits. This alternative approach should not only reduce potential  risk
 and expense to coal operators, it should result in more operators implementing more
 reclamation  activities and improving overall water quality. This new approach will be
 tested in up  to eight watersheds with significant acid mine drainage (AMD) pollution.
 This XL project, EPA's 38th, was signed on September 22, 2000.

 Remining, with reclamation to present-day standards, has proven to be an effective
 way to reclaim abandoned mine lands  and improve water quality. This XL project is
 designed to  increase the number of remining operations providing reclamation, and to
 improve upon and increase  the number of reclamation and AMD-abatement measures
 taken during remining operations. Coal operators are expected to implement more
 reclamation  activities in the watershed than are currently required by Pennsylvania
 regulations,  which will ultimately improve water quality at little  or no cost to taxpayers.
 As a safety  measure,  if BMPs fail and water quality is degraded, operators will be
 required to implement additional BMPs in the watershed or treat effluents at individual
 discharge points.

 As the Project XL sponsor, PADEP is requesting relief from imposing numeric effluent
 limits for preexisting discharges. For these preexisting discharges, the coal operators
 will be required to implement specific BMPs as well as comply with in-stream pollutant
 concentration limits. PADEP will continue to require numeric limits for the preexisting
 discharges during the remining operation. When these BMPs have been used at other
 remining sites, they have improved water quality and achieved the NPDES numerical
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PADEP has communicated with stakeholders on this innovative approach to remining
permits on several occasions over the past two years. Among other activities, PADEP
has issued a statewide press release on this subject, and has met with the Mining and
Reclamation Advisory Board (MRAB), a cross section of stakeholders, from coal
mining companies to environmentalists interested in the remining of Pennsylvania's
abandoned coal mine lands. PADEP also has sponsored a Project XL stakeholders
meeting to present the details of the proposed project and to solicit participation.
PADEP has  made a commitment  to make project-related reports  and information
available for  public inspection at the appropriate district mining office for each pilot
watershed. In some cases, citizen watershed organizations have formed around
efforts to remediate AMD-impacted streams. These citizen organizations and other
stakeholders will be contacted by  PADEP to identify the best watersheds to be
included in this project and evaluate possible  BMPs to bring about water quality

*   Will a permitting approach that emphasizes BMPs as opposed to numeric effluent
   standards encourage remining of abandoned mines?
   How does the BMP approach affect the overall water quality of watersheds
   containing abandoned mines? What are the most effective BMPs, and how can
   they be improved?
   Can BMPs without numeric limits prevent pollution from abandoned mines,
   regardless of whether they will be disturbed during the remining?
Regional Contact:
Project  Sponsor:
Steven J. Donohue
Ted Cochin
Michael Smith
(215)  814-3215
(202)  260-0880
More information about this XL Project, or the Project XL Program, is available on the
Internet at http://www.epa.gov/projectxl under "Information on Specific XL Projects,"
or via Project XL's Information Line at (202) 260.5754.
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