Chances are if you’re reading this message, you already know that the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Sierra Club have been fighting for Ryerson Station State Park in front of the Environmental Hearing Board for many years now. After with the loss of Duke Lake in 2005, we have taken action time and time again to prevent Consol from destroying Ryerson.
Our latest fight involves the preservation of Kent Run, a stream inside the boundaries of Ryerson. Consol is seeking to mine underneath it, resulting in serious damage that would likely require years of high impact construction and clear-cutting to attempt remediation. Thankfully, in December, the judge hearing our case temporarily required that Consol stop mining at least 500 feet before they reach Kent Run until there was a hearing on our petition for supersedes, which would block Consol from mining under Kent Run until there was a decision on the legal and factual merits of our appeal. If you want some more background on how we reached this point, read here.
In order to win our petition, we must prove that we will likely prevail on the factual and legal merits of our appeal and that the harm to our members, the public and the environment, and to Kent Run and its watershed outweighs any harm that Consol might suffer if it cannot longwall mine beneath Kent Run.
The hearing on our petition was held before Judge Beckman on January 10th, 11th and 12th in downtown Pittsburgh. At the hearing, we learned that Consol never planned to stop longwall mining before it reached Polen Run in the 3L panel. We also learned that Consol has done nothing to prepare to stop longwall mining 500 feet short of Kent Run since the EHB’s December 23, 2016 Order.
This information will be important to remember in the event that we are successful in protecting Kent Run within Ryerson Station State Park. The fact of the matter is that Consol executives have had ample time to prepare for a variety of outcomes, and have done nothing. Rather, they are hurtling towards an uncertain future and choosing to do nothing to protect their employees, or community members. The executives will likely avoid paying a penalty for the risk they assumed, but I would bet we can all guess who they will try to pin it on. If Consol conducted its operations at the Bailey Lower East Expansion in a responsible manner, it could, safely protect and preserve Kent Run within Ryerson Station State Park while avoiding employee layoffs. Instead, Consol executives decided to do nothing, and that decision is theirs alone.