Consol Energy was given permission to continue underground operations for its Bailey Mine extension in Greene County, PA, but will not be allowed to mine within 31 m (100 ft) of Kent Run, a stream that flows through Ryerson Station State Park.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board issued a two-page order grants an injunction, sought by the Sierra Club and the Center for Coalfield Justice, to prevent Consol from undermining the stream until the hearing board decides whether to grant the environmental organizations’ request in a related case seeking a mining prohibition beneath the park, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
That case, argued in August and before Judge Steven Beckman, challenges the legality of Consol’s 3,000-acre Bailey Mine extension because, the organizations say, it would damage 14 streams in and around the park. A decision in that case is expected in February.
A December order by Judge Beckman temporarily prohibited Consol from mining within 152 m (500 ft) of the stream.
The order will allow Consol to continue mining operations in its “3L Panel” for about two weeks, or until it reaches the board’s 152-m (100-ft)buffer. That order also rejected a request by Consol that Sierra and Coalfield Justice post “a substantial, multimillion-dollar bond” to protect the company from any financial loss resulting from court action.
Consol spokesman Brian Aiello issued a statement from Jimmy Brock, chief executive officer of CNX Coal Resources LP, the mine operator for Consol. Brock criticized the hearing board judge for “attempting to legislate misguided public policy,” and characterized the environmental organizations as “radical groups” with an “anti-jobs agenda.”
“This decision is patently wrong, we will aggressively appeal it and continue to protect our right to compliantly operate under the terms of the permit issued” by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Brock said.
The Cecil-based coal and natural gas company had argued in a filing to the hearing board that granting the injunction would disrupt its mining operations, result in the loss of revenue from coal that otherwise would have been extracted, and increase potential risks to its 360 mine employees.
According to the document, the 31-m (100-ft) stream buffer would cause it to leave 326 kt (360,000 st) of coal in the ground and result in the loss of $15.3 million in coal revenue.