Consol Energy Inc. to pay $36 million to replace Greene County dam
State officials plan to reopen Duke Lake in Greene County by the summer of 2017, now that they have a multimillion-dollar deal with Consol Energy Inc. for dam repairs and gas drilling at Ryerson Station State Park.
The deal includes a $36 million payment from Cecil-based Consol to help rebuild the dam, state officials announced at the park Wednesday. The state is dropping its six-year legal fight over whether Consol's mining caused subsidence and cracks in the dam to get it rebuilt and protect the core of the park from drilling and mining, officials said.
As part of the deal, Consol officials will not admit fault. The dam will be designed to withstand impacts from coal and gas extraction nearby, said Tommy Johnson, Consol's vice president of government and public relations. Consol plans to expand its coal mining under the outskirts of the park. The state also agreed to lease the park's gas rights in return for Consol agreeing to keep its wells outside the park and its mines from under the lake, officials said.
“They own the mineral rights. You and I can't stop them from accessing them,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said after the announcement. “We're getting more than enough to rebuild the dam.”
The Center for Coalfield Justice, which had intervened in the legal case, criticized state officials for giving in to Consol's negotiating tactics and how it leveraged the mineral rights under the park.
“We're happy that the dam is coming back,” said the group's executive director, Patrick Grenter. “We think it's just outrageous that Consol has avoided taking any responsibility for the destruction they caused here.”
Workers at the nearby Graysville Store said that while they blamed Consol for the damage, getting the lake reopened and restoring a lost community keystone would be the biggest story of the year in Greene County.
“It would be the only thing anyone would care about or get excited about,” said Stacey Marshall, 36, of Richhill. It had long been the only spot for many local families to go fishing, camping, swimming and paddle boating, and they haven't wanted to go back since state workers drained the lake in 2005 when it was leaking badly, she said.
The center of the dam is gone, but the outer walls remain, with cracks several feet long and some cement segments separating at the base.
Less than half of the $36 million payment comes with no strings. Consol is paying $4 million as the upfront land bonus that's common in gas lease deals, and that money will go to a statewide fund. An additional $13.7 million is essentially a guaranteed advance on royalties the company could start paying if it drills under the land, department spokeswoman Christina Novak said.
As part of the settlement, Consol will also donate 506 acres to the 1,164-acre park. Consol could donate some of that land by early next year, but it will hold other parts for years to use for its well pads, company officials have said. It will be months before they finish a plan on where and how many wells they will drill and how long drilling will take, they added.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers should corner the market at NFL Draft
- Photo gallery: Steelers 1st-round draft picks
- Riots in Baltimore raise questions about police response
- Most talent in NFL Draft play at Steelers’ positions of need
- Pittsburgh area unemployment ticks up
- Hog Father’s eatery chain ferries barbecue to workers at gas well pads
- Water main break disrupts Downtown traffic
- Grand jury presentment: AG Kane lied, attempted to cover up leak
- Former Tennessee DE Hendrix announces transfer to Pitt
- Man found dead in Lower Burrell
- Steelers receiver Brown attends workouts despite previous comments