Tentative (subject to change as the AMR Conference Committee continues to plan)

This page contains a list of presentations in no particular order.


Opening Speaker – Patrick McDonnell, PA DEP Acting Secretary, “Economics and Environment”


Patrick McDonnell was most recently the director of policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, where he oversaw the agency’s regulation and policy development processes. In addition, Mr. McDonnell ran the State Energy Office and was charged with coordination of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues.

Prior to returning to DEP, Mr. McDonnell was executive policy manager for former Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, focusing on electric, natural gas and water issues as well as cybersecurity and the impact of environmental regulation on energy markets.

Previously, Mr. McDonnell spent 13 years with DEP in a variety of roles. As deputy secretary for administration, he managed the budget, human resources, information technology and oversaw the facilities management functions of the agency. He also previously served as policy director and as an assistant to the special deputy secretary. He began his career at DEP working in the State Energy Office on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building projects.

Mr. McDonnell received his Master’s degree in Political Science from Lehigh University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Politics from DeSales University.

Lunch Speaker – Tim Danehy, BioMost, “AMD in the Bolivian Highlands”


The Bolivian highlands (Altiplano) are host to some of the world’s richest mineral deposits. The Department of Potosí, Bolivia has been intensively mined for nearly five centuries, resulting in extensive environmental degradation and contamination of soil and water resources.  In order to demonstrate a way to begin to restore this highly degraded landscape, a demonstration project has been established in a valley south of Cerro Rico (the world’s richest silver deposit).  The past and current activities have had to surmount a myriad of challenges from purely technical (e.g., lack of suitable equipment, road failures, work on extreme slopes, rainy season earth instability) to purely non-technical (e.g., general strikes, road blockades, inter-partner communication issues, volunteer workforce management). Despite the difficulties involved, this transfer of technology born in Appalachia to the land of the Inca has been worthwhile both for the residents downstream receiving improved waters as well as regional officials noting a more cost effective and sustainable option with which to address longstanding environmental degradation.

Closing Speaker – Joe Pizarchik, OSMRE Director, “OSMRE Perspective”


Joe Pizarchik is the 10th Director of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining.  An Indiana County, Pennsylvania native, Joseph Pizarchik attended the Pennsylvania State University, first at the Altoona Campus and then graduating from University Park in 1979.  Pizarchik was one of the authors of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act and provided counsel during the development and implementation of the Good Samaritan program. Pizarchik is also credited with helping clear the way for the sale of private mining property to the Families of Flight 93 to enable the construction of the national memorial, a project to which he remains committed.

Tiff Hilton, “Manganese—Misunderstood, Mis-Regulated, & Mistaken for a Problem”


Manganese limits set forth by the Clean Water Act were not based on the toxicity of Manganese.  And, as it turns out, the side effects from the treatment for manganese removal is a problem, not the Manganese.  West Virginia adopted what is known as the “Five Mile Rule”, which stated that the human health criterion for manganese would only apply within a five mile zone up-stream from a public intake. This action, along with the existing available tools such as Alkaline Mine Drainage limits (No manganese) and Post Mining Limits (Report Only Limits) helped to substantially reduce the adverse effects created from the treatment itself.

Melissa Reckner, Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, “State of the Kiski-Conemaugh River – Changes in Last 16 Years”


The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy is working to update the Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin Conservation Plan, published in 1999.  It is documenting the status of the 121 recommendations made in the Plan and is quantifying chemical and biological changes in key waterways over the last 16 years due to the numerous restoration projects that transpired as a result of the Plan and watershed initiatives.  This presentation will highlight significant findings, trends, and areas of concern.

Len Lichvar, Somerset Conservation District, “Economics of Conservation Recreation”


Investing in natural resource conservation provides an economic return that is not always easy to determine or confirm and is not often focused on or fully realized by those who pursue resource conservation and all those who benefit from that return on investment.  This program will provide a few different  methods and view points and data to understand and appreciate  that return on investment in simple everyday terms.

Mark Killar, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, “Sewickley Creek Cost/Benefit Analysis”


Throughout Pennsylvania, many non-profit organizations have developed restoration plans for AMD impaired watersheds. To secure federal AML funding through Pennsylvania’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program and with other federal programs, those plans must include a cost/benefits analysis to assure that funds from the program are spent wisely. In an effort to assist in the development of a cost/benefit analysis for AMD projects being proposed for a qualified hydrologic unit watershed, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy worked with Hedin Environmental, through a technical assistance grant provided by Trout Unlimited’s Eastern Abandoned Mines Program, to develop a treatment cost calculator, which could compare costs on a variety of AMD treatment types. This presentation will demonstrate how it was used to develop a cost/benefit analysis for priority AMD discharges within the Sewickley Creek watershed in Westmoreland County.

Greg Shustrick, Somerset Conservation District, “Rock Tunnel Passive Treatment System – Design Modifications Through the Years”


The Rock Tunnel Passive Treatment System is located in Somerset County, PA and was one the first of its kind to be constructed in the Stonycreek River watershed. The original system was completed in 1993, however site conditions were a limiting factor to appropriately size the system to the volume of mine water flows. Since 1993 the system has undergone two major alterations to enhance water treatment.  The Somerset Conservation District has been involved with this project since its inception and has worked diligently to utilize new technologies at this site. The 2014/15 reconstruction of the Rock Tunnel PTS is an example of how these efforts have allowed move closer to our goal.

Elizabeth Ricketts Marcus, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, “Profits, Promises, and Patriotism: The Impact of World War I on Western Pennsylvania’s Coal Economy”


Increased demand for coal during World War I brought industrial expansion and robust profits for coal operators, while miners were asked to make patriotic wage sacrifices in return for promises of post-war economic prosperity. Soaring inflation exacerbated by a sharply contracting demand for coal in the immediate post-war period culminated in an explosive clash between labor and capital in 1919 over wages, unionism, and the definition of Americanism.

Anne Daymut, WPCAMR, “Non-Profit Lobbying Rules”


The rules governing what non-profits are allowed to do with respect to legislation can be confusing and downright frightening with the threat of losing your non-profit status if you do the wrong thing.  Anne will cover the basic definitions and rules of advocacy and lobbying.  She will highlight some of the main considerations each group should make and encourage discussion on why non-profit groups should take advantage of lobbying.

Vince Brisini, Olympus Power, LLC, “Making Sense of the SENSE Act”


The Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act or “SENSE Act” addresses the sulfur dioxide (SO2) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) allowance issue and the Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) acid gas standard issues for bituminous coal refuse to energy plants.  This is accomplished in a fashion that preserves the CSAPR SO2 budget by reallocating SO2 allowances from retired units and units fuel switched from coal to natural gas to the bituminous coal refuse fired units.  The MATS acid gas issue is accomplished by providing an alternative, additional performance-based SO2 standard.  The SENSE Act does not permit SO2 allowances allocated under the SENSE Act to be transferred to any other facility and requires the surrender of those SENSE Act SO2 allowances upon retirement or fuel switching of the unit.  By preserving the CSAPR SO2 budget, the Clean Air Act Section 110 “Good Neighbor” provisions for particulate matter are protected, the “CSAPR is better than BART” decision for regional haze is protected and because the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) monetized benefits are based on the same SO2 emission rate as CSAPR, the MATS monetized benefits are also protected. The only air toxic that has been identified by EPA with a monetized benefit in MATS is mercury and a number of these coal refuse-fired facilities were used to set the mercury standard required by MATS.  Under the SENSE Act, all of these regulatory and monetized benefits are protected while allowing the bituminous coal refuse fired facilities to continue their efforts in cleaning up coal refuse and remediating and reclaiming mining affected lands.  Plus, the communities in which these facilities are located and where the coal refuse is removed will continue to experience the economic benefits of these facilities.


Melissa Meade, Temple University, “Dialogical Communication and Digital Citizenship in the Anthracite Coal Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania”


Emerging from doctoral research and adding infrastructure to the fragmented digital footprint of the Anthracite Region, Melissa created the “Anthracite Region” Facebook page (now with 7,700 members) and the anthracitecoalregion.com website as a public digital collaboratory wherein residents engage in community dialogue. This talk will discuss issues of environmental and economic concern expressed by residents: What is the socio-economic legacy of the Anthracite Coal Industry? What does extraction mean to residents in this single-industry area? How do residents relate to local landscapes and ruins?

Brian Bradley, PA DEP, “Pennsylvania AML/AMD Program and Funding Overview”


The presentation will provide updates on the status of PA’s AML/AMD program and the outlook of current and future funding.  The topics presented will include: BAMR’s Fund Management Responsibilities and Balances; Re-unification of the AML and AMD programs under BAMR’s umbrella;  Present status of the AMD program and plans for moving forward; Updates on new and developing AML/AMD programs including the $90 million AML Economic Enhancement and Reuse Pilot Program,  PA’s AML Emergency Program, and the RECLAIM Act (H.R. 4456); and, highlights on a few of the major AML hazard projects BAMR currently has underway.

Luke Monette, OSMRE, “Drones and their use in Environmental Monitoring”


The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), in cooperation with the US Geological Survey and BLM, conducted aerial inspections over the past several years, using a small unmanned aerial system (SUAS). This was part of an ongoing project to determine if SUAS may be used effectively, efficiently, and with reasonable cost to assist in OSM’s mandated oversight duties. The products derived from the SUAVs sensors: spatially accurate mosaicked images and a derivative 3D representation of the surface; demonstrated technology that can be used effectively to measure features within active coal mines. With the mosaicked images and 3D model at their fingertips, SMRCA personnel can easily determine if features meet applicable State and Federal laws and regulations or need further investigation. This presentation will provide participants a brief overview of this work, future plans, emerging technology and some of the rules and regulations in use of SUAS.  3D PDFs (The best way to view these 3D PDFs is to download them to your desktop and open them with Adobe Viewer, not your web browser.) flight33d(5.4MB), flight43d(9.8MB), flight5_6 (29MB), & flight5_6 Report(6.7MB)

Rachel Kester, Trout Unlimited, “TU’s OM&R Jobs Analysis Study”


The cleanup of AMD itself presents economic opportunities in addition to, of course, all the environmental benefits that result from cleaner streams and restored lands. It is vitally important that key policy makers understand the importance and benefits of AMD cleanup, and in particular the economic benefits. This presentation will highlight the findings from a recently completed study that focused on job creation around the long-term maintenance of passive treatment systems across Pennsylvania.

Ryan Ellis, Interstate Mining Compact Commission, “State Regulatory Authority Perspectives on AML-Related Legislative Activity in the 114th Congress”


The 114th Congress has featured a significant amount of legislative activity related to Abandoned Mine Lands (AML). The Gold King Mine Spill in August of 2015 brought AML to the forefront of national attention, invigorating consideration of the many-faceted dilemma posed by the AML sites. The state AML programs have long endeavored to educate lawmakers and inform debate on potential solutions, bringing their practical experience and technical expertise to bear on the search for policies that best address the wide range of effects felt by AML-impacted communities. The National Association of Abandoned Mine Lands Programs (NAAMLP) and Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) provide a forum for state AML program managers to discuss contemporary issues in AML policy and enables them to make concerted recommendations to policy-makers. This presentation will review and provide state regulatory perspectives on the AML-related topics under consideration during the 114th Congress, including: Hardrock AML, Reauthorization of the AML fee, Response to the Gold King Mine Spill, Good Samaritan Liability Protection, AML Appropriations, Economic Revitalization, and others. This presentation will also include a review of specific bills and legislative proposals put forward in the current Congress and provide an account of the positions and actions taken by state AML regulatory authorities through NAAMLP and IMCC.

Mike Korb, MikeKorb LLC, “An Anthracite Coal Heritage Area?”


Mr. Korb presents the case for an organization dedicated to marketing, preserving, and interpreting the anthracite region’s industrial heritage, cultural diversity, the labor traditions and capitalist innovations, creation of landscapes and ecosystems, and its people and their stories.

Kevin Kraus, Saint Francis University Environmental Engineering Department, “Trompe Aeration”


Ancient technology that found its roots in the Catalan Forge in Spain, has seen a revival in recent years to treat acid mine drainage. This technology harnesses the power of hydraulics and hydrology by passively compressing air via the use of falling water, using no moving parts. A group of recently-graduated students from Saint Francis University have done extensive research in attempt to procure sizing guidance and parameters for the installation of this passive technology.