Litigation

Environmental Hearing Board Protects Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park

Today, the Environmental Hearing Board issued CCJ and Sierra Club’s petition for supersedeas to protect Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park from mining. Read our press statement below:

Community Groups Praise Environmental Hearing Board for Protecting Ryerson Station State Park

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) has forbidden Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company (Consol) from mining within 100 feet of Kent Run inside Ryerson Station State Park while it hears an ongoing appeal of the company’s controversial permit to expand its Bailey Mine. In December, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit revision that would allow Consol to perform extensive and destructive longwall mining beneath the surface of two streams - Polen Run and Kent Run - portions of which are within Ryerson Station. Consol’s previous permit required “development mining” under the streams, which is a process designed to prevent the land above the mine from subsiding. Before an appeal could even be filed, Consol undermined and damaged a section of Polen Run just outside the park boundary.

The permit revision filed by Consol predicted significant damage, notably subsidence and flow loss, to the streams in the park. Since Consol’s destruction of Duke Lake via mining activity over ten years ago, conservationists argue these two streams are some of the most important remaining water features in the park. The Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) and the Sierra Club filed an appeal of the permit in December and asked the EHB to prevent damage to the park while the appeal was being considered.  Attorneys from CCJ and Appalachian Mountain Advocates are representing the groups in this matter. It is unusual for mining activity to be halted during an a permit appeal, but it is also unprecedented that this level of stream damage was permitted by a mine within a State Park.

In response, Patrick Grenter, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice and Tom Schuster, Senior Campaign Representative for Pennsylvania at the Sierra Club  issued the following statements:

“We are thrilled that the Environmental Hearing Board halted destructive longwall mining underneath Kent Run inside of Ryerson Station State Park,” Grenter said. “Based on the hearing, it was clear Consol was intent on operating without any consideration for Ryerson or the thousands of local residents who use it every year. It is a shame that Governor Wolf forced us to do his job and defend the Commonwealth’s state park, but we are thankful to the hundreds of area residents who contributed to our successful efforts.”  

"Not only has the Environmental Hearing Board protected Kent Run from the destructive practice of longwall mining, it has also preserved a community space for all local residents to enjoy,” Schuster said. “Consol really has no one to blame but itself by assuming they would be allowed to freely mine in the park and illegally destroy the best remaining water sources. If they had followed their original mining plan we wouldn’t have had to file this petition.”

Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park 

Kent Run in Ryerson Station State Park 

 

 

We Had a Court Hearing on Mining in Ryerson: Here’s What Happened

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.

We’re Back in Court to Defend Ryerson

For years, we have been fighting side by side with the Sierra Club against Consol’s plans to illegally mine coal from underneath Ryerson Station State Park. There was a three week trial over the summer about this issue; ultimately deciding whether the state-permitted plan to destroy streams and “rebuild” them later was consistent with the Clean Streams Law in Pennsylvania. We are eagerly awaiting the decision from the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board on that issue.

In the meantime, Consol has been getting closer and closer to Ryerson. In fact, we learned this fall that they were seeking permission from the Governor to mine underneath and inside of Ryerson’s boundaries BEFORE we got a decision from the Environmental Hearing Board as to whether this was even legal. On December 13, we learned that the Wolf Administration approved this illegal plan. Within days, we assembled a team of lawyers and experts and filed for a supersedes, or an injunction, to force Consol to immediately stop mining before they reached Polen and Kent Run.

We were infuriated to learn that DEP had issued the permit in such a way to avoid this very type of legal action; even though we had filed as fast as possible, by the time the Judge conducted his first conference call of the parties, we learned that Polen Run had already been destroyed. Thankfully, the Judge put into place an order that prohibited Consol from mining within 500 feet of Kent Run until after he’d conducted a hearing about the issues.

That hearing is scheduled for next week, from Tuesday through Friday in downtown Pittsburgh. At the hearing, we will present evidence about the damage done to streams by longwall mining, and highlight the many options available to Consol to avoid this damage that they have so far refused to do.

This is a great opportunity for our members to show the Judge that they care about Ryerson Station State Park. Join us, be present, and show your support for a preserved and healthy Ryerson.

The trial starts on Tuesday, January 10, at 9:30 AM at the Environmental Hearing Board’s Pittsburgh Facility, Hearing Room 2014, Piatt Place, 301 5th Avenue. It is scheduled to continue through the 13th. If you want more information on the hearing or ride sharing, please call 724-229-3550 or email Veronica at veronica@coalfieldjustice.org.  

Thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh.

 

 

Community Groups File Appeal of Mine Threatening State Park

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.

Case Update on our Fight for Ryerson Station State Park

Starting in 2014, we partnered with the Sierra Club to bring an appeal to a permit that authorized longwall coal mining that predicted severe stream impacts in and around Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County. At the heart of the appeal is whether Consol’s right to longwall mine trumps the protections set forth in the Clean Streams Law, the Department’s mining regulations, and Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Today is the Day We Start our Trial to Protect Streams.

Dear Supporters, 

As we begin our long-awaited trial before the Environmental Hearing Board, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to all of our members who have attended DRYerson Festivals for the past ten years. Thank you to all those who have donated your precious time and resources to support our organization’s fight for environmental justice. Thank you to all those who have shared our message with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. We could not do this work without you, and for that, I thank you.

Update in Our Case For Ryerson Station State Park: EHB Denies Consol’s Motion

On Monday, May 16th, Consol filed a motion and memorandum of law asking the Environmental Hearing Board to remove and disregard portions of our Reply Brief, which was filed on May 9th. In event that the Board decided not to remove those portions of our Reply Brief, Consol’s motion requested permission to file a response to our Reply Brief and that the Environmental Hearing Board schedule oral argument before ruling on our motion for summary judgment.

Exciting Update in Our Legal Case for Ryerson Station State Park

Yesterday the Center for Coalfield Justice and Sierra Club filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in our appeal of the permits for the Bailey Mine’s Lower East Expansion, which authorize mining under part of Ryerson Station State Park and the surrounding area. We filed our first appeal back in May 2014 against the Department of Environmental Protection for issuing the permit which allows Consol to reduce and eliminate flow in certain streams based on Consol's promise to try to repair the stream later. This is against the Clean Streams Law and the coal mining regulations that DEP is required to follow. A mitigation plan does not make it lawful to approve harm to streams in advance of mining, as the Department did in this case. The parties in our case are DEP, because they made the decision we are challenging, and Consol, because they have the permits we are challenging.