Our People, Our Mountains, Our Future: Get on the Bus to Greenbrier!

Beginning on January 31, Donald Trump and every Republican member of the House and Senate will gather at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to plan their 2018 agenda. Join us on a trip to Greenbrier, WV to make our voices heard!

CCJ is partnering with One Pennsylvania in sending buses from locations in Pittsburgh and Washington as part of an overnight trip to make sure that Trump and Congressional Republicans hear our priorities as they're setting their agenda. All expenses - travel, lodging, and food - will be covered as part of the trip through our partnership with the Center for Popular Democracy.

During their retreat, Trump and Congressional Republicans will step into meetings to strip away what is left of our healthcare and plan even more racist immigration policies. They will figure out ways to poison our water and deregulate our workplace protections. Mineworkers will suffer. Teachers will suffer. Students will suffer. Mothers and children will suffer. We have to lift up the stories of the people who are being hurt by these policies and show them that we won't sit back and let it happen without a fight.

Reserve your spot on one of our buses here: http://bit.ly/2Ex9TxL.

Please reach out to Sarah Martik at 724-229-3550 x1 or smartik@coalfieldjustice.org with any questions.

Transportation information is as follows:

Pittsburgh departure at 8:00 am: Pittsburgh United (841 California Ave. Pittsburgh, 15212)

Washington departure at 8:00 am: J. Barry Stout Park and Ride (E. Beau St., Washington, 15301)

Overnight lodging arrangements will be made for all participants. Hotel information is forthcoming. We will return home from West Virginia by 9:00 pm on February 1.

Bailey Mine Litigation Settlement and Commonwealth Court Appeal Update

Kent Run at Ryerson Station State Park. (Photo credit: Sarah Winner)

Kent Run at Ryerson Station State Park. (Photo credit: Sarah Winner)

A Stipulation of Settlement Entered in Permit Revision 204 Litigation

Permit Revision 204 authorized longwall mining beneath Kent Run and Polen Run in the 3L panel of the Bailey East Expansion. In January 2017 we successfully petitioned for a supersedeas that prohibited Consol from conducting longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the 3L panel, located within the park, while the appeal is pending.

As part of Permit Revision 209, the DEP approved a revised mining map submitted by Consol that shows development mining only beneath Kent Run. As a result, on January 5, 2018, we entered into a stipulation of settlement with the DEP and Consol. In the settlement, the parties agreed to quit fighting now and also agreed that we can pick the fight back up again if the DEP approves longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the future.

The settlement agreement recognizes and makes clear that Consol no longer has permission to conduct longwall mining under Kent Run in the 3L panel, which is located within Ryerson Station State Park. It also states that any future authorization of longwall mining would require a permit revision subject to public notice and comment. In other words, if Consol ever wants to return to the 3L panel and longwall mine beneath Kent Run, it will be required to go through the permit application process again.

Any future authorization of longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the 3L panel would be a final DEP action that is appealable to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). The agreement preserves our ability to raise any factual and legal issues that we identified in the Permit Revision 204 Appeal, including issues related to post-mining stream mitigation in Kent Run, in an appeal of any future permit revision which reauthorizes longwall mining.

Consol Discontinued its Appeal of EHB Decision on Permit Revision 180 and 189

On August 15, 2017, the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) delivered a major victory to CCJ, Sierra Club and their members in a consolidated appeal of two longwall mining permits for the Bailey Mine: Permit Revision No. 180 and Permit Revision No. 189. Shortly thereafter, Consol appealed the EHB’s decision to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

On January 9, 2018, Consol discontinued its appeal of the EHB’s decision. That decision, which sets forth important guidance for evaluating longwall mining applications in the future and provides stronger protection for Pennsylvania streams, cannot be overturned.  

A Year in Review

As we enter this holiday season, please consider a year-end gift to the Center for Coalfield Justice to support our work in 2018. This past year has been full of precedent-setting victories, transition, and growth. Veronica Coptis, our longtime organizer and a lifelong resident of Greene County became our Executive Director and we welcomed Sarah Martik, a new organizer whose family has lived in Washington County for generations. Our board has also grown with more diverse voices and backgrounds better representing the communities we work with.

Most exciting this year, our legal and organizing efforts to protect streams in Ryerson Station State Park have prevented those streams from being destroyed TWICE. The legal win set a new Pennsylvania precedent making it illegal for a coal mining company to get away with trying to simply build a new stream once the original stream is destroyed.

Our growing power has been noticed by the coal industry. They’ve placed several billboards across the region negatively targeting our organization. This means we are winning! The coal industry is afraid of the power we are building in with rural communities who are standing up for their rights even with the risks that are associated.

Other 2017 highlights include:

  • Pushed the DEP Office of Environmental Justice to hold listening sessions across the state to start improving their environmental justice policies.
  • The DEP Secretary, DCNR Secretary, and Governor’s Office visited Ryerson Station State Park to see the impacts from longwall coal mining and hear from community members.
  • Held an action day in Harrisburg to advocate against gutting protections for streams impacted by coal mining.
  • Hosted four organizing trainings to build the skills of people living on the frontlines.
  • Helped plan and present at the Climate Reality Project, Society for Environmental Journalism, and People vs Oil and Gas conferences.
  • Profiled in the New Yorker and other major media outlets.
  • Provided over 20 Fracking in the Coalfields Tours.
  • Organized a bus from Washington County to the People’s Climate March in Washington DC.

Our work is only possible because of donations and support from you. Next year, our access to clean water, clean air, and stronger economies will continue to be under attack by the coal industry and out of touch government leaders.

In response, the Center for Coalfield Justice will be ramping up our work by building more leaders and collective rural power in Washington and Greene Counties in order to secure a healthy environment and thriving communities.

Thank you,

Veronica, the Sarahs and our Board of Directors

How should communities cope with the end of coal?

Photo of PA Route 18 (Photo Credit: Jon Dawson)

Photo of PA Route 18 (Photo Credit: Jon Dawson)

Amelia Urry, Grist

"The Mon Valley in western Pennsylvania was once at the center of an industrial revolution that put the United States on the map, but you might have trouble picking out some of its towns on that map now.

“These communities have been neglected by everybody,” says Veronica Coptis, the executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice and a longtime resident of Greene County. She grew up among the emptied-out towns that first sprung up beside the steel factories and coal mines that once lined the Monongahela River for miles.

Now those steel plants are gone, and many of the mines have closed. The coal mines still in operation are largely mechanized, operated by an ever-dwindling number of non-unionized laborers. The Center for Coalfield Justice, based in Greene and Washington Counties, works to protect the rights of people living in mining towns, filing legal challenges and advocating for better policy from the state government."

Read the full article at Grist. 

Parent's Know Your Rights Training

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Our friends with Washington County United are hosting a training for parents to know what your rights are with your children that are in school on Thursday, December 7th from 6 PM to 8 PM at the LeMoyne Community Center (200 N Forrest Ave, Washington, PA 15301). This training will help you learn what rights you have as a parent, what rights your child has, and how you can use these legal protections to help make sure your child has the resources they need to succeed.

Do you know what to do if:
…Your child has an IEP?
…Your child is repeatedly suspended?
…Your child is criminally charged for a school infraction?
…You’re constantly called for behavioral issues in the classroom?
…You want the policy changed in your child’s school?

Come learn from experts who will help you learn what your rights are and how you can use them to help your child.

Food and childcare are available! We'll be meeting at the LeMoyne Community Center, which is wheelchair accessible. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any accommodations for the training.

RSVP Here

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Washington County United is a community organization coming together to fight for quality schools and an economy that works for all of us. We are part of the growing One Pennsylvania statewide network of community organizations working to tackle the roots of inequality in our communities.

CCJ Ugly Sweater Holiday Party

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Join CCJ on Tuesday, December 19th from 6 PM to 8 PM at our office for an evening of fun as we celebrate the end of a successful year! CCJ will provide the refreshments (snacks and drinks), you bring yourself, maybe a friend, and your holiday spirit. 

Wear your ugliest and tackies sweater to our Holiday Party and people will vote on the ugliest sweater. The winner will receive a gift card. 

RSVP here

Please call 724-229-3550 or email smartik@coalfieldjustice.org with questions!

5 Reasons to Give to CCJ #GivingTuesday

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Now that we’ve indulged in some turkey, shopping, and much-deserved time watching parades and sports, we can’t forget all the things we’re thankful for. CCJ is thankful to our members and supporters who allow us to do the work we do. On this Giving Tuesday, we ask that you consider making a donation to CCJ to ensure that we are able to continue working for you and for our communities through the end of this year and for years to come.

Your contribution will support our efforts to protect people and the environment from coal mining, shale gas development, and other extractive activities. It will help our efforts to build more powerful rural communities defending their rights to clean water, clean air, and thriving economies.

Donate Now

Why CCJ Participated in Action at Southpointe to Hold Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

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This past weekend, some CCJ staff, board members, and regular volunteers participated in the People Vs. Oil and Gas Summit as well as at an action in Southpointe. We want to take the time to share a little of what we learned and to explain our participation in the action.  

The Summit itself was an inclusive space where people from various backgrounds from across the country - and even Canada and the United Kingdom - joined in on an educational and collaborative weekend discussing our experiences with the fossil fuel industry and planning next steps to better work together to combat threats to our communities.  One way that CCJ hopes to become more involved in some of the bigger threats to our region is to begin working with groups in the area to stop the Royal Dutch Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver Co. While this may not directly affect us in Greene and Washington Counties, the increase in fracking in our communities will affect all of us. We also plan to share a wider variety of stories with you, our members and supporters, to help you be more aware of the scope of the environmental justice struggle in our country. We are working on building on the connections we’ve made to bring more solutions to the problems we face in Greene and Washington Counties.

The most newsworthy part of this past weekend was the action at Southpointe. The action, which was separate from the Summit, had two parts: a pre-approved march throughout Southpointe, which organizer Sarah participated in, and a blockade of a major road within Southpointe. In our communities fossil fuel extraction disrupts our lives every day. The noise produced from fracking can be stressful to the point of being unbearable, and no one likes being hounded by persistent and aggressive landmen to sign leases. When we’ve stood up for our rights in the past, we’ve done so where we live, and in many of those cases we were ignored because the people in the industry who make the calls that affect us so drastically do not live in our communities. The goal of this action was to show those in the fossil fuel industry what it’s like to spend your daily life in a place with constant disturbance. The march lasted for about two hours, and the road blockade was held for four hours before two activists were arrested - which was intended. On this one Monday morning the people working for these energy companies felt the same traffic impacts those of us on the frontlines of fracking and mining feel everyday.  

The rhetoric from the industry, of our being radicals and not basing our claims on facts or science, surrounding the action at Southpointe is not unexpected. But clearly it is not a “radical” concept that property owners should be able to make choices about their own land. It is not “inflammatory” to point out that our water has been taken away and polluted because of fossil fuel extraction. There are no “facts” or “science” to support the need to further develop fossil fuels; in fact, facts, science, and math would indicate that a transition to a renewable energy economy would be the best possible option for our country. As for Pennsylvania values, we suggest that the industry take a look at Article 1, Section 27 of our PA constitution.

We thank you for the support you’ve all given us in the past which allowed us to take on such visible roles in the Summit and the action. We hope you know that CCJ will always take on the fights that matter so much to our communities.

-Veronica and Sarah

P.S. Support our two friends who got arrested defending our rights by donating to their legal fund.

Bailey Mine Permitting Update

On Friday, November 3, 2017, the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) issued Permit Revision No. 209 to Coal Mining Activity Permit 30841316. Permit Revision No. 209 authorizes Consol to conduct longwall mining in the 6L – 8L panels of the Bailey Mine.  

There has been some confusion about whether Permit Revision No. 209 authorizes longwall mining beneath Polen Run in the 4L and 5L panels of the Bailey Mine. It does not. Instead, it authorizes longwall mining in three panels (6L-8L) that are located in an area south-east of Ryerson Station State Park.   

Consol is currently longwall mining in the 5L panel of the Bailey Mine. In January we successfully petitioned for a supersedeas that prohibited Consol from conducting longwall mining beneath Kent Run in the 3L panel, located within the park, while the appeal is pending. Then, in August, CCJ and Sierra Club received a favorable decision in their consolidated appeal of Permit Revision Nos. 180 and 189.

Due to this decision, Consol had to amend their pending permit for authorization to mine under Polen run, which is within the state park, for the 4L and 5L panels. This permit is still pending and we are prepared to take any action to protect the stream.