[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 185 (Friday, September 25, 2009)]
[Pages 48952-48953]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-23231]




Science Advisory Board Staff Office Request for Nominations of 
Experts To Provide Advice on Ecological Impacts Associated With 
Mountaintop Mining and Valley-Fill Operations

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office is 
requesting nominations to form an ad hoc panel, under the auspices of 
the SAB, to provide expert advice to the EPA on a draft assessment of 
the ecological impacts associated with a surface coal mining technique 
known as mountaintop mining and valley-fill where mining overburden is 
placed in adjacent valleys. This assessment is being prepared by EPA's 
Office of Research and Development (ORD) at the request of EPA's 
Regional Office in Philadelphia, PA (Region 3).

DATES: Nominations should be submitted by October 16, 2009 per the 
instructions below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Any member of the public wishing 
further information regarding this request for nominations may contact 
Mr. Edward Hanlon, Designated Federal Officer (DFO), SAB Staff Office, 
by telephone/voice mail at (202) 343-9946; by fax at (202) 233-0643 or 
via e-mail at [email protected]. General information concerning the 
EPA Science Advisory Board can be found at the EPA SAB Web site at: 
http://www.epa.gov/sab. Any inquiry regarding EPA's Region 3 activities 
related to mountaintop mining and valley-fill operations should be 
directed to Mr. John Forren, Associate Director for Monitoring and 
Assessment, Environmental Assessment and Innovation Division, Region 3 
EPA, who may be contacted via telephone at (215) 814-2705 or by e-mail 
at [email protected]. Any inquiry regarding EPA's ORD draft 
assessment on the ecological impacts of mountaintop mining and valley-
fill operations should be directed to Dr. Michael Slimak, Associate 
Director of Ecology, National Center for Environmental Assessment, who 
may be contacted via telephone at (703) 347-8524 or by e-mail at 
[email protected]. The public release of this assessment, which is 
expected in mid-November 2009, will be announced in the Federal 

[[Page 48953]]

and posted on the NCEA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

    Background: Recent published scientific information reveals that 
mountaintop mining and valley-fill operations in Southern Appalachia 
may be linked to degraded water quality and adverse impacts on in-
stream biota. Discharges from surface coal mining operations are 
regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). CWA Section 402 provides 
authority to regulate discharges of pollutants to streams from valley-
fills and associated operations. CWA Section 404 provides authority to 
regulate construction of the valley-fill itself to the extent rock and 
dirt are placed in waters of the United States, including streams and 
wetlands. Surface coal mining operations are regulated under the 
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).
    EPA's Region 3 Office has requested EPA's ORD to prepare a 
scientific assessment of the ecological impacts related to mountaintop 
mining and valley-fill operations. The scope of this assessment 
includes: loss of headwater streams, downstream water quality and 
subsequent effects on in-stream biota, and cumulative ecological 
impacts. In addition, the draft assessment will evaluate restoration 
and recovery methods used by mining companies to address these 
ecological impacts associated with mountaintop mining and valley-fill 
operations. Cultural, aesthetic and human health impacts that may be 
associated with this mining technique are not part of the scope of this 
current assessment. ORD requested the SAB review and provide advice on 
the scientific adequacy, suitability and appropriateness of the draft 
    The SAB was established by 42 U.S.C. 4365 to provide independent 
scientific and technical advice, consultation, and recommendations to 
the EPA Administrator on the technical basis for Agency positions and 
regulations. In response to ORD's request, the SAB Staff Office will 
form an expert Panel to review and provide advice to ORD regarding its 
draft assessment of ecological impacts related to mountaintop mining 
and valley-fill operations. The SAB expert advisory panel on the 
ecological impacts related to mountaintop mining and valley-fill 
operations will comply with the provisions of the Federal Advisory 
Committee Act (FACA) and all appropriate SAB procedural policies. Upon 
completion, the panel's report will be submitted to the chartered SAB 
for final approval for transmittal to the EPA Administrator.
    Request for Nominations: The SAB Staff Office is seeking 
individuals with nationally recognized expertise, experience, 
knowledge, and field experience in the following disciplinary areas 
associated with mountaintop mining and valley-fill operations: aquatic 
ecology, aquatic toxicology, hydrogeology, water quality, mining 
engineering, ecosystem restoration, inorganic chemistry, freshwater 
ecological risk assessment, and systems ecology. Qualified nominees 
will be considered for serving on this ad hoc panel.
    Process and Deadline for Submitting Nominations: Any interested 
person or organization may nominate qualified individuals for possible 
service on the augmented EEAC in the areas of expertise described 
above. Nominations should be submitted in electronic format (which is 
preferred over hard copy) following the instructions for ``Nominating 
Experts to Advisory Panels and Ad Hoc Committees Being Formed'' 
provided on the SAB Web site. The electronic nomination can be accessed 
through the ``Nomination of Experts'' link on the blue navigational bar 
on the SAB Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sab. To receive full 
consideration, nominations should include all of the information 
    EPA's SAB Staff Office requests contact information about the 
person making the nomination; contact information about the nominee; 
the disciplinary and specific areas of expertise of the nominee; the 
nominee's curriculum vitae; sources of recent grants and/or contracts; 
and a biographical sketch of the nominee indicating current position, 
educational background, research activities, and recent service on 
other national advisory committees or national professional 
    The EPA SAB Staff Office will acknowledge receipt of nominations. 
The names and biosketchs of qualified nominees identified by 
respondents to the Federal Register notice and additional experts 
identified by the SAB Staff will be posted on the SAB Web site at 
http://www.epa.gov/sab. Public comments on this ``Short List'' of 
candidates will be accepted for 21 calendar days. The public will be 
requested to provide relevant information or other documentation on 
nominees that the SAB Staff Office should consider in evaluating 
    For the EPA SAB Staff Office, a balanced subcommittee or review 
panel includes candidates who possess the necessary domains of 
knowledge, the relevant scientific perspectives (which, among other 
factors, can be influenced by work history and affiliation), and the 
collective breadth of experience to adequately address the charge. In 
establishing the final ad hoc panel, the SAB Staff Office will consider 
public comments on the ``Short List'' of candidates, information 
provided by the candidates themselves, and background information 
independently gathered by the SAB Staff Office. Specific criteria to be 
used for panel membership include: (a) Scientific and/or technical 
expertise, knowledge, and experience (primary factors); (b) 
availability and willingness to serve; (c) absence of financial 
conflicts of interest; (d) absence of an appearance of a lack of 
impartiality; (e) skills working in committees, subcommittees and 
advisory panels; and, for the panel as a whole, (f) diversity of, and 
balance among, scientific expertise, viewpoints, etc.
    The SAB Staff Office's evaluation of an absence of financial 
conflicts of interest will include a review of the ``Confidential 
Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on 
Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency'' (EPA Form 3110-48). This confidential form allows Government 
officials to determine whether there is a statutory conflict between 
that person's public responsibilities (which includes membership on an 
EPA Federal advisory committee) and private interests and activities, 
or the appearance of a lack of impartiality, as defined by Federal 
regulation. The form may be viewed and downloaded from the following 
URL address http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/epaform3110-48.pdf.
    The approved policy under which the EPA SAB Office selects 
subcommittees and review panels is described in the following document: 
Overview of the Panel Formation Process at the Environmental Protection 
Agency Science Advisory Board (EPA-SAB-EC-02-010), which is posted on 
the SAB Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/ec02010.pdf.

    Dated: September 18, 2009.
Anthony F. Maciorowski,
Deputy Director, EPA Science Advisory Board Staff Office.
[FR Doc. E9-23231 Filed 9-24-09; 8:45 am]