CCJ In the News

CRDA no. 7 Public Hearing Recap

coal_refuse_Treverton PA.jpeg

A Public Hearing for the pending Coal Refuse Disposal Area (CRDA) No. 7 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water permit was held last Wednesday, July 17 at the Morris Township Community Center in Graysville, PA.  The Observer-Reporter and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette attended the meeting (and their stories are linked here with their respective names).  

Only a handful of concerned residents were able to make the mid-afternoon meeting time on a Wednesday: the meeting was held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. In our history of requesting and attending meetings like this, community members have consistently pressed for meetings to be held at times that are accessible to residents, but these requests are invariably ignored. The unwillingness to consider residents is a disservice, and allows for an inaccurate portrait of a lack of concern around the issue.  

For their part, Consol Energy doesn’t mind the low turnout. “We own all the surface properties affected by the construction in this permit area, so we didn’t expect a lot of people to show up,” said Anthony Drezewski, Consol’s director of land resources. They didn’t expect many people to attend because they have effectively and systematically removed them (and thus, part of the “problem”) from the permit area. Not only have these landowners and taxpayers been displaced, but the coal companies will now devastate and devalue some 900 acres of a beautiful, lush and thriving valley. This, in turn, will drive down property values and bring further costs to taxpayers!

Consol executives will use and abuse the land and workers until it no longer lines their pocketbooks, and then the burden of their operations will fall upon the taxpayers of Greene County and the rest of Pennsylvania.  

Environmentalists want more action from Tom Wolf. More talk would be nice, too.

Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Marie Cusick | StateImpact 

Environmental groups are pushing Governor Tom Wolf to advocate more for green causes as the Democrat gears up for the final year of his first term and runs for reelection.

Wolf will deliver his fourth budget address Tuesday—the annual speech to the legislature that lays out his priorities.

Many environmentalists say his record, so far, has been disappointing.

Read more, and see comments from CCJ's Executive Director, here. 

Settlement: No Longwall Mining Beneath State Park Stream in Greene County

Photo Credit: Reid Frazier/State Impact Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reid Frazier/State Impact Pennsylvania


Consol Energy has agreed not to conduct longwall mining beneath a section of a southwestern Pennsylvania stream, as part of a settlement it reached with environmental groups.

In addition, the company discontinued an appeal of a court decision that blocked it from mining beneath another nearby stream with longwall mining, a method of coal removal that shears off long sections of rock. The technique can cause the ground above it to fall in, or subside, which can cause problems for buildings and waterways on the surface.

As part of the settlement, Consol Energy will not conduct longwall mining beneath the “3L” section of Kent Run, a small stream that runs through Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County. The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Sierra Club had argued that longwall mining could crack the stream bed, causing damage to water flow and aquatic life.

Read the full story here

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. 

The New Yorker: The Future of Coal Country

Bailey Mine Prep Plant (Photo Credit: CCJ)

Bailey Mine Prep Plant (Photo Credit: CCJ)

By Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker

One Sunday morning, just after deer-hunting season ended, Veronica Coptis, a community organizer in rural Greene County, Pennsylvania, climbed onto her father’s four-wheeler. She set off for a ridge a quarter of a mile from her parents’ small farmhouse, where she was brought up with her brother and two sisters. “Those are coyote tracks,” she called over the engine noise, pointing down at a set of fresh paw prints.

At the crest of the ridge, she stopped along a dirt track and scanned in both directions for security guards. Around her stretched a three-mile wasteland of valleys. Once an untouched landscape of white oak and shagbark hickory, it now belonged to Consol Energy and served as the refuse area for the Bailey Mine Complex, the largest underground coal mine in the United States.

Read full story at the New Yorker

Environmental Groups, Locals Speak Out Against Bill Threatening to Harm PA Streams

CCJ and Sierra Club Press Conference at Capitol (Photo Credit: Tom Torres)

CCJ and Sierra Club Press Conference at Capitol (Photo Credit: Tom Torres)

Harrisburg, PA — The Center for Coalfield Justice with the Sierra Club, Mountain Watershed Association and local residents held a press conference today at the Capitol to oppose SB 624 and demand Pennsylvania senators protect local streams instead of creating more loopholes for the coal industry. The bill, which passed through the Senate Energy and Environmental Resources Committee yesterday, attempts to exempt the coal industry from the PA Clean Streams Law.

“Consol is attempting to legislate away the pending litigation and is attempting to guarantee itself the right to destroy the remaining streams in Ryerson Station State Park,” Veronica Coptis, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice said. “These streams are important economic and recreational resources for western Greene County. They are the very places my community has left to teach our children how to fish.”

Three years ago, the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) and Sierra Club filed appeals for two permit revisions to Consol’s Bailey Mine stating they violate the Clean Streams Law and Mining Law. A hearing on the appeals was held in August 2016 and a decision from the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) is expected any day now. However, this bill appears to directly target the Center for Coalfield Justice and Sierra Club’s appeals before the EHB. In section 3 of the bill, it states that the act shall retroactively apply to all permits that were the subject of an appeal and heard by the EHB after June 30, 2016.

“It’s clear that Consol will stop at nothing to win an appeal that is against the law, against the environment and against labor just to prove a point,” Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter said. “Consol should not be allowed to turn our healthy streams into reconstructed drainage ditches.”

"Growing up on the Monongahela River I watched pollution destroy recreational opportunities,” Lois Bower-Bjornson a local PA resident said. “If SB 624 is made into law communities will lose what little they have left."

SB 624 could be voted on in the Senate as early as June 5th.

Observer-Reporter: Consol agrees not to mine near Kent Run in Ryerson Station

Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park (Photo Credit: Sarah Winner)

Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park (Photo Credit: Sarah Winner)

by Mike Jones, Observer-Reporter

Consol Energy has agreed not to mine within 100 feet of Kent Run near Ryerson Station in order to retain permission to mine beneath the state park in Greene County, according to an agreement the company reached with state regulators last month.

The agreement between Consol and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which was signed April 26 and released Wednesday...

Read full article at Observer-Reporter