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Group appeals decision allowing Consol to mine under streams in Greene Co.

| Friday, May 30, 2014, 5:01 p.m.

An environmental group on Friday asked the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board to halt Consol Energy's plans to mine more than 3,000 acres in Greene County that could harm streams and other waterways in and near Ryerson Station State Park.

The Center for Coalfield Justice, based in Washington, Pa., filed an appeal objecting to a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection. The appeal notes, among other things, that Consol wants to expand its Bailey Mine operation to longwall mine under 3,175 subsidence control plan acres that include 14 streams — four of which are predicted to incur flow loss or reduction.

“That is from their own application,” said Patrick Grenter, executive director of the center. “And that's if everything goes well.”

The DEP declined to comment.

Cecil-based Consol Energy issued a statement touting its Bailey complex and 5,000 employees who work there as being industry leaders in safety, compliance and productivity.

“The Center for Coalfield Justice's actions continue to ignore the facts and clearly reveal their anti-jobs, anti-energy, anti-prosperity agenda that only serves to weaken our region's competitiveness,” spokeswoman Kate O'Donovan wrote.

The center learned of Consol Energy's application through an email from DEP, Grenter said.

“We didn't think the state would approve this,” he said.

In April, Consol Energy officials agreed to pay $36 million to rebuild a dam in Ryerson Station State Park that was damaged in 2005 and caused the 62-acre Duke Lake to be drained.

The state blamed drilling and longwall mining done by Consol Energy. The company admitted no guilt in reaching the settlement, which included Consol donating 506 acres to the 1,164-acre park and the company receiving the park's gas rights — though wells are to be kept outside the property and no mining is to occur under the lake.

One of the waterways the center fears will be in danger is North Fork Dunkard Fork, the stream that crosses the drained Duke Lake.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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