An Amwell Township-based environmental group has submitted a study to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, contending the agency is not diligently enforcing longwall mining operations across the state.
Citizens Coal Council sent the report on Thursday. CCC, according to a news release, recommended that the DEP more stringently adhere to “its own rules to repair or restore structures and water supplies that are damaged by mining subsidence, and to prevent damages to streams and other water resources.”
CCC maintains that the DEP is not enforcing requirements of Act 54 and the Clean Streams Law. Act 54, passed in 1994, requires the DEP to publish a report every five years on effects of mine subsidence; to make sure structures and water supplies impacted by subsidence are repaired or restored; and to prevent damage to streams, wetlands and aquifers from mining activities.
The 106-page report is titled “Undermining Trust: The Collapse of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania.” CCC will present its findings to the DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council on Tuesday, during a regularly scheduled meeting. The CAC reviews environmental laws and regulations and can recommend changes the DEP could make.
DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said on Friday the agency received the report and was reviewing it.
Longwall mining is used in the bituminous coalfields of Washington and Greene counties. Coal is extracted without providing leaving surface support, which can lead to subsidence damage.
Aimee Erickson, executive director of the CCC, said in a statement: “For years, we have seen the (DEP) issue approvals for longwall mining throughout our region with little to no concern paid to the impacts it has on our environment and local residents.
‘This is not an attack against the coal industry, but rather a heartfelt request to the DEP to do the right thing. This agency is supposed to protect our environment and people, and for far too long DEP has failed to fully exercise its oversight authority over this mining practice.”
The CCC report, according to the news release, uses DEP data to show that since Act 54 was enacted more than a quarter-century ago, longwall mines have been overwhelmingly responsible for damages incurred by underground coal mining. It also says, among other things, that 1,726 water supplies have been damaged (67% due to longwall mining).
The public can attend Tuesday’s meeting by phone or Zoom by following directions on the CAC website. Anyone wanting to comment during the meeting must sign up beforehand by contacting Keith Salador, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-8171.
Citizens Coal Council, on Friend Road in Amwell, is a nonprofit that says it is “dedicated to protecting people, land, and water from the dangers that are associated with coal mining.” It was founded in 1989.