Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coal Council Rebuffs DEP Coal Study

A local group is taking issue with the way Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection reviews the environmental effects of coal mining.

The Citizens Coal Council says the five-year review omits key data that was readily available to the University of Pittsburgh, which performed the study. The CCC says the longwall mining method has also proven disproportionately harmful to the environment.

CCC Executive Director Aimee Erickson says her group hired ecological firm Schmid & Company to examine the DEP study’s process. Erickson says the company found that Pitt failed to note more than 1400 Clean Water Act violations in three Greene County mines.

Erickson says this was the third of such five-year reviews since the state’s current “Act 54” mining law was passed in 1994. She says the review once again failed to look at the big picture of the industry’s impact.

“The way the damage is recorded with the DEP is incidences. Instead of saying there’s two to three miles of stream damage, they refer to it as incidences. So there’s no really good way to show the cumulative impact, and that’s a big issue,” says Erickson.

Erickson says Act 54 conflicts with the Clean Streams Law and must be changed to protect homes and the environment from the effects of mining. The CCC presents its finding to a DEP committee Tuesday.

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