12th Annual DRYerson Festival

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Come spend the afternoon with the Center for Coalfield Justice and your neighbors as we celebrate the progress we’ve made in our fight to protect Ryerson Station State Park. The 12th annual DRYerson Festival is on Saturday, June 30th from 1-4 PM at Pavilion 3 in the Park.  The day will kick off at 11:30 with a pre-festival hike lead by CCJ Director ,Veronica Coptis, covering the history of the impacts to the park and our community’s efforts to hold Consol accountable, protect our water resources from further damage, and re-envision an improved park. Register here for the hike and don’t worry: it ends just in time join the festival!

This year’s celebration will feature live music from Breanna Otto, coloring contests, kids crafts, and back by popular demand- the CCJ water balloon blast! The hike and the festival are dog-friendly, and our staff highly encourages you to bring your pooch (on a leash!) to join in on the festivities! Cats on a leash are also welcome - we don’t discriminate at CCJ. Summer classics like hot dogs, ham barbecue, and watermelon will be offered throughout the day, and you’ll have chances to win door prizes at the top of every hour. One change for this year’s event that speaks to our values and supports another program of ours is to reduce our use of plastic, so we will have reusable plate and each person will get to take home a bamboo fork.

Ryerson is going through a revitalization process to improve the park, and DCNR will be at the festival to share the status on the current progress and get feedback from you.  CCJ is committed to ensuring that these changes will incorporate the needs of our community. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage directly with DCNR and celebrate the park.

Let us know you are coming to event by registering here. Call us at the office if you want to volunteer or want to know more about the event. We hope to see all your friendly faces there!

 

State Launches “DEP CONNECT” to Engage with Communities

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The state is launching DEP Connects, a new opportunity from the state regulatory agency to provide communication to residents about DEP programs and to hear from community members across the state. They will hold events in each of the six regional areas across the state.

Sign Up to Get Notices

We highly encourage you to sign up to get information on when the DEP will hold an event in your region so you don’t miss any opportunity to be heard.

California Borough Holding Public Hearing on New Fracking Ordinance

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California Borough, a municipality in Washington County situated along the Monongahela River, will hold a public hearing for their new draft zoning ordinance on Thursday, June 7th, 2018 at 5:30 pm in the Municipal Building. Sections 407 and 421 address compressor stations and unconventional gas wells.

There is currently no active drilling within the Borough - home to California University of Pennsylvania, The Village Early Childhood Education Center, and California Area School District - and this is the Council's first time writing an ordinance to regulate the industry. Residents have been meeting to discuss needed changes to the ordinance with the support of the Center for Coalfield Justice and the broader Protect Our Children coalition.

Here's how you can help: if you or someone you know lives in the area, make a plan to get to the public hearing. You can also sign and share this petition, which will be delivered to Borough Council Members.

For more information, contact Sarah Martik at smartik@coalfieldjustice.org or 724-229-3550x.1!

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Meet Our Summer Interns: Nick and Maura!

Please welcome the newest additions to the CCJ team: Nick and Maura!

Nick and his family have resided and worked within Washington County for their entire lives.  Currently, he is enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh and is finishing his degree in Environmental Studies. Nick is passionate about the environment and hopes to see an increase in environmental protection to help ensure the health and well-being of his family, including his 4 nephews and 1 niece.  As a part of his goals, he aims to educate and provide his community with the necessary knowledge and tools to combat pollution and corruption perpetuated by the large energy companies. When he is not working, he likes to play music, watch baseball and spend time with his family and friends.

Maura also studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she majors in environmental science. She lives with her family just south of Pittsburgh in the Borough of Carnegie where she enjoys baking, reading, and gardening. Maura believes the success of big business should not come at the cost of a community’s well being and is excited  to be part of CCJ,where she hopes to get to know the coalfields and the people who live in them.

Nick and Maura are both are eager to work with our members and supporters as our summer organizing interns, so if you see them around this summer, be sure to say hi!

Community Comes Together to Heal and Rally Forward from Mining Impacts to Polen Run in the Park

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Last month the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (“EHB”) denied the Center for Coalfield Justice’s and Sierra Club’s petition for supersedeas to protect Polen Run within Ryerson Station Park from significant harm caused by longwall mining. We are, of course, very disappointed by the decision. The following weekend, our community came together to remember Ryerson as it once was and rally together to continue to invest in the Park moving forward.

A supersedeas is an extraordinary remedy and will not be granted absent a clear demonstration of need. The burden of proving that a supersedeas should be granted falls squarely on the petitioner - CCJ and Sierra Club in this case. It is important to remember that a ruling on a supersedeas is merely a prediction, based on limited evidence and a shortened time frame for consideration, of who is likely to ultimately prevail. In the end, the determination of whether or not to grant a petition for supersedeas is at the discretion of the EHB based on a balancing of the factors it considers in reaching that decision.

The EHB agreed with us that Polen Run within Ryerson Station State Park was likely to suffer an impact from longwall mining. However, in the end, the Board found that it was a “close call” and explained, “given the high burden that must be met in order to grant a supersedeas, where the evidence comes down to a close call we cannot find that the burden has been met.” In its decision, the EHB acknowledged the practical burdens imposed on CCJ and Sierra Club in a supersedeas hearing where we have not had the benefit of discovery and where we are required to prepare our case under significant time constraints. The Board further explained: “We note, of course, that if this case proceeds to a hearing on the merits additional evidence may be available regarding the impact of mining on Polen Run.

Finally, the EHB acknowledged the importance of our permit appeal when it stated:

“We acknowledge the important public service undertaken by the Appellants in appealing the issuance of Permit Revision 210 and the previous permit revisions that involve mining under Ryerson Station State Park. Ryerson Station State Park is the only state park in Greene County, and, pursuant to Article I, § 27, the public has a right to the preservation of its natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values...Appellants’ appeal raises important public issues and ensures that the Department fulfills its duties under Article I, § 27. Those duties and obligations also extend to this Board and to the appellate courts.”

We will be monitoring the impacts of longwall mining to the streams throughout the rest of the year and plan to continue our appeal before the Environmental Hearing Board. If you’d like to help us monitor Ryerson Station State Park while mining is ongoing, please contact us.   


Our community has been sacrificing their water, homes, and public resources to longwall mining around Ryerson for over a decade. We are grateful and encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received and the continued interest in defending our rights to clean water and healthy communities.    

Please contact us if you’d like to know more about the revisioning of Ryerson Station State Park or are interested in volunteering for our DRYerson Festival on June 30th.

Thank You for Wigle-ing With Us!

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Thank you to everyone who came into the city for our Whiskey in the Water fundraiser at Wigle Whiskey! The Center for Coalfield Justice continues to raise funds so that we can invest in leadership development within our communities, continue to address the various environmental justice issues we face, and grow as an organization. 

Wigle Whiskey generously donated about 10% of all proceeds from the evening - including drink, bottle, and merchandise sales - to CCJ through their Bantam Nights program. They do this kind of fundraiser for various groups in the area regularly, and they also host various fun events throughout the summer, so we highly suggest taking a look at their Facebook page to see what's coming up! Throughout the night, our Board and volunteers sold CCJ merchandise and talked with Wigle patrons about our work. Sweetheart of the Barricades played music for us throughout the night.  Vagabond Taco Truck set up at the event for us so patrons could eat while drinking and being merry. 

With the success of this first Pittsburgh fundraiser, we hope to make this a yearly event, and we hope to see everyone again next time!

Enlow Fork Wildflower Walk

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On a crisp Sunday morning, several dozen people gathered at Enlow Fork Game Lands to observe the diverse bird and flower population. This event is hosted each year by the Wheeling Creek Watershed Association providing local conservation groups to share with community members what the local issues are to protect our environment. The late spring did not provide many wildflowers to view but there many birds active in the early morning. We hope to see you all there for next spring.

Report on Coal Mine Bonding in Central Appalachia

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The Center for Coalfield Justice is a member of the Alliance for Appalachia, which is a regional coalition of grassroots, non-profit organizations with the goals of ending mountaintop removal, putting a halt to destructive coal technologies, and creating a sustainable, just Appalachia.  They recently released a report on the state of surface coal mine bonding in four Central Appalachian states. Bonds are used for ensuring reclamation of mine sites, should a company be unable to finish reclamation. The report details the bonding programs in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and recommends improvements that state and federal agencies should make to better protect communities and the environment.

Check out more information here:

http://theallianceforappalachia.org/report-coal-mining-bonding-central-appalachia/ 

Judge Allows Mining Under Polen Run Inside Ryerson Station State Park While Appeal is Being Heard

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Greene County, PA--The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) filed an order today denying a petition for supersedeas filed by Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) and Sierra Club. The petition sought to protect Polen Run within Ryerson Station State Park from significant harm caused by longwall mining. The EHB’s denial of our petition allows Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company (Consol) to longwall mine beneath Polen Run inside Ryerson Station State Park while an appeal filed by the Sierra Club and CCJ is being considered. The appeal comes after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit to Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company (Consol) last month allowing the company to perform extensive and destructive longwall mining beneath the surface of Polen Run which is within the Park.

This is the fourth time the groups have been forced to file an appeal of permits for Consol’s Bailey Mine East Expansion. Back in 2017, the EHB forbade Consol from mining within 100 feet of Kent Run inside Ryerson Station State Park while it heard an appeal of the company’s controversial permit to expand its Bailey Mine due to Consol and DEP predicting significant damage and flow loss in the stream. 

In response Veronica Coptis, Executive Director of Center for Coalfield Justice and resident of Greene County said the following:

“The EHB’s decision to deny our petition to prevent longwall mining under Polen Run within Ryerson Station State Park is disappointing. Families in our region deserve to enjoy fishing and other recreational activities in and around Polen Run as they’ve done for generations. We are continuing in our efforts in the reinvestment and rebuilding of Ryerson Station State Park.”   

OnePA EJ Team Learns about Environmental Injustice in PA Coalfields

 CCJ Executive Director, Veronica, describing the Coal Refuse Disposal Area or toxic valley fills to One PA Environmental EJ Team. 

CCJ Executive Director, Veronica, describing the Coal Refuse Disposal Area or toxic valley fills to One PA Environmental EJ Team. 

On Earth Day we want to challenge you to learn about the impacts to our environment and people's health in your region. This year we provided a coalfield tour to One Pennsylvania's Environmental Justice Team to help show folks living in Pittsburgh how fossil fuel extraction just a short drive outside the city impacts not just the climate but also city's air and water quality. The attendees were shocked at the scale of the impacts on people and saw many connections to their communities where corporations are also putting their profits before people. At the Center for Coalfield Justice, we are excited to continue bridging the divide between our communities and communities in Pittsburgh. Together we can achieve healthy communities with thriving economies where all our folks have access to clean water, clean air, outdoor spaces, and healthy jobs. Make a donation today and support bringing rural and urban communities together