Greene County, PA — The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) has forbidden Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company (Consol) from mining within 100 feet of Kent Run inside Ryerson Station State Park while it hears an ongoing appeal of the company’s controversial permit to expand its Bailey Mine. In December, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit revision that would allow Consol to perform extensive and destructive longwall mining beneath the surface of two streams – Polen Run and Kent Run – portions of which are within Ryerson Station. Consol’s previous permit required “development mining” under the streams, which is a process designed to prevent the land above the mine from subsiding. Before an appeal could even be filed, Consol undermined and damaged a section of Polen Run just outside the park boundary.
The permit revision filed by Consol predicted significant damage, notably subsidence and flow loss, to the streams in the park. Since Consol’s destruction of Duke Lake via mining activity over ten years ago, conservationists argue these two streams are some of the most important remaining water features in the park. The Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) and the Sierra Club filed an appeal of the permit in December and asked the EHB to prevent damage to the park while the appeal was being considered. Attorneys from CCJ and Appalachian Mountain Advocates are representing the groups in this matter. It is unusual for mining activity to be halted during an a permit appeal, but it is also unprecedented that this level of stream damage was permitted by a mine within a State Park.
In response, Patrick Grenter, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice and Tom Schuster, Senior Campaign Representative for Pennsylvania at the Sierra Club issued the following statements:
“We are thrilled that the Environmental Hearing Board halted destructive longwall mining underneath Kent Run inside of Ryerson Station State Park,” Grenter said. “Based on the hearing, it was clear Consol was intent on operating without any consideration for Ryerson or the thousands of local residents who use it every year. It is a shame that Governor Wolf forced us to do his job and defend the Commonwealth’s state park, but we are thankful to the hundreds of area residents who contributed to our successful efforts.”
“Not only has the Environmental Hearing Board protected Kent Run from the destructive practice of longwall mining, it has also preserved a community space for all local residents to enjoy,” Schuster said. “Consol really has no one to blame but itself by assuming they would be allowed to freely mine in the park and illegally destroy the best remaining water sources. If they had followed their original mining plan we wouldn’t have had to file this petition.”