Consol Energy has agreed not to mine within 100 feet of Kent Run near Ryerson Station in order to retain permission to mine beneath the state park in Greene County, according to an agreement the company reached with state regulators last month.
The agreement between Consol and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which was signed April 26 and released Wednesday, means the company must halt any mining operations near Kent Run and Polen Run, both feeder streams for the park in Richhill Township.
The agreement came three months to the day after a state Environmental Hearing Board judge ordered Consol in January to halt longwall mining within 100 feet of Kent Run along its Bailey Mine 3L panel. Consol is appealing that ruling to Commonwealth Court.
That ruling prompted Consol to briefly furlough about 200 workers from the Bailey Complex as it resituated its mining equipment.
According to the agreement with DCNR reached in April, if Consol mines within 100 feet of Kent Run in its 3L and 4L panels, all access to the park will immediately be revoked and the company must suspend any restoration or stream mitigation efforts it was performing. The DCNR will then have the right to hire a contractor to perform the restoration work to come into compliance with state Department of Environmental Protection regulations.
The agreement also grants Consol access to certain areas in the park in order to perform stream restoration work in the event of subsidence, according to DCNR spokeswoman Christina Novak said.
“DCNR believes the agreement protects Kent Run, which is a key water feature integral to the revisioning process for Ryerson Station State Park,” Novak said of a multi-million dollar revitalization project planned at Ryerson. “The agreement also requires enhanced stream restoration to ensure conservation of natural resources and protect outdoor recreation opportunities on Polen Run and North Fork Dunkard Fork should subsidence from longwall mining occur.”
It was not immediately known how the agreement might affect Consol’s pending appeal with Commonwealth Court. But Consol spokesman Brian Aiello wrote in an email that the agreement “provides critical operational certainty and protects thousands of family-sustaining jobs at the Bailey Complex.”
Veronica Coptis, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, one of the groups challenging Consol’s mining permits near Kent Run, said she could not comment directly on the agreement due to the pending litigation, but said it will help preserve the park’s waterways.
“The loss of streams and recreational opportunities in a state park already heavily impacted by longwall mining would be a tremendous loss to the community,” Coptis said. “DCNR and DEP have a responsibility to ensure that streams, including their recreational uses, in Ryerson Station State Park are protected. We appreciate all the time DCNR spent working on this agreement.”