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Groups Appeal Mine Permit Threatening State Park

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Friday, December 23, 2016   

GREENE COUNTY, Pa. - Environmental groups say coal mining threatens to damage two streams in Ryerson Station State Park, and they want it stopped while the mining permit is reviewed.

On Wednesday, the Sierra Club and the Center for Coalfield Justice filed an appeal of a permit revision given to Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co., allowing longwall mining directly under the streams. According to Tom Schuster, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club, those streams are among the few remaining water features in the park, and the permit revision was granted despite the company's acknowledgement that damage will occur.

"Their application predicts that some of these streams will see water loss because of subsidence from full-extraction mining," Schuster said.

The coal company has said 2,000 mining jobs are at stake, and it is working with Gov. Tom Wolf's office to ensure that environmental compliance conditions are met. However, Schuster pointed out that, 10 years ago, the same company was responsible for destroying a lake in the same park. He said attempts to restore waterways often fail.

"There are a number of streams that have been impacted in other portions of this mine outside the park that, years later, have never returned to their pre-mining condition," he said.

Ryerson Station Park also is in a section of Greene County that is a state-designated environmental justice area, and is the only state park easily accessible to the local community.

Schuster said he believes the permit revisions may violate state law, and added that mining must stop while the appeal is in progress. The environmental groups have challenged similar revisions to the mining permit for areas outside the park; he said that decision is due early in the new year.

"If the Environmental Hearing Board does agree with us that this type of damage is illegal," he said, "the DEP will have allowed additional damage to occur, and this time within a state park."

Schuster said the predicted loss of water in the streams would destroy wildlife habitat as well as recreational opportunities for area residents.

The appeal is online at ehb.courtapps.com.


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