Community Groups File Appeal of Mine Threatening State Park

Greene County, PA--The Sierra Club and Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) filed an appeal of a permit issued by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that would allow Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company (Consol) to mine underneath Ryerson Station State Park, damaging the streams that flow through the area. The groups are asking the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) to halt mining in the park while the appeal is being considered. The appeal comes after the DEP issued a permit to Consol last week allowing the company to perform extensive and destructive longwall mining beneath the surface of two streams - Polen Run and Kent Run - portions of which are within the Park. The permit was issued despite the fact that the application filed by Consol predicts significant damage, notably subsidence and flow loss, to these streams. Since Consol’s destruction of Duke Lake via mining activity nearly ten years ago conservationists argue these two streams are some of the most important remaining water features and fishing spots in the park.

“We’re asking the EHB to halt all mining by Consol within the park until it has a chance to review the permit appeal. By issuing this permit and allowing Consol to utilize longwall mining beneath these streams, DEP is actively allowing a private company to destroy a public park for profit and diminish the very small amount of running water we have left since the company’s previous mining activities resulted in the loss of Duke Lake,” Patrick Grenter, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice said. “This area in Greene County is a state-designated environmental justice area and Ryerson is the only state park in Pennsylvania easily accessible to this community. With the lake gone and now the near-certainty of damaging these streams, what recreational opportunities will this community have? We hope the Board will step up where the DEP and Governor Wolf have failed and stop the destruction of this public property.”

The activity authorized by this new permit is predicted to result in flow loss that would prevent aquatic life, like fish, salamanders, frogs, and macroinvertebrates (such as mayflies, dragonflies, and other insects that live in streams) from surviving in the streams. Thousands of fish have died from mining at this Consol complex in the past and thousands of future memories and experiences have been stolen from visitors of Ryerson Station State Park.

“The Wolf Administration’s decision to issue this permit runs counter to its obligations under Pennsylvania’s Constitution, which promises all of us, as well as future generations, the right to pure water, clean air and the preservation of the environment,” Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter said. “It is unconscionable that the only state park in a state-designated environmental justice community is being sacrificed for the temporary benefit of this one company. The state has allowed mining to begin as we contest the permit and already there has been subsidence-induced flow loss in Polen Run, which flows through Ryerson Station State Park. To date, we have lost hundreds of stream miles as a result of this mining and many more have been permanently degraded.”

In April, the Center for Coalfield Justice and Sierra Club appealed another permit issued to Consol for mining activity that would result in reduced or eliminated flow in streams just outside the park, arguing that the mining activity will violate the Clean Streams Law and that the permit runs counter to DEP’s own coal mining regulations.

“Yet again, our state government has caved to pressure from Consol and failed to protect an environmental justice community from the company’s reckless operations,” Veronica Coptis, Deputy Director of Center for Coalfield Justice and resident of Greene County. “The Governor has placed the burden of defending the community’s only state park on the residents.”