3K letters protest Nottingham mine proposal

March 5, 2014
Denny Franks, left, of the environmental group Protectors of Mingo, and Patrick Grenter, center, executive director of Center for Coalfield Justice in Washington, present state Department of Environmental Protection official Joel Koricich with more than 3,000 letters Wednesday in opposition to a proposed deep coal mine in Nottingham Township. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CALIFORNIA – Environmentalists on Wednesday hand-delivered more than 3,000 letters to the state Department of Environmental Protection in opposition to a proposed deep coal mine they believe will disrupt rural living near Mingo Creek County Park in Nottingham Township.

The groups, Protectors of Mingo and Center for Coalfield Justice in Washington, presented the letters to Joel Koricich, DEP acting district mining director at the California office, who said the Kentucky-based coal operator RAMACO had yet to apply to the department for a permit to mine in the area.

“We appreciate your passion, and we’ll look at every one of them,” Koricich said.

RAMACO drew immediate opposition from Nottingham residents after the Lexington company applied last spring to Nottingham supervisors for zoning permits to establish above-ground facilities to mine 8 million tons of former Mathies Mine reserves. Supervisors set 62 conditions on the mine, which proposes to haul coal by truck on a narrow country road in Nottingham. The proposal called for the company to move coal in as many as 70 truckloads a day along Little Mingo Road.

Patrick Grenter, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, said state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, and state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, have both voiced opposition to the new mine that would be accessed from a portal at the former Hudson horse farm.

“This proposal has continued to be substandard,” Grenter said. “It is clear that this project cannot operate safely in Nottingham Township.”

In a Jan. 13 letter to the company, Solobay stated he believed the traffic problems the mine would create “cannot be effectively mitigated,” at that the residential character of Nottingham isn’t “suited to the proposed mine.”

“I have come to the conclusion that this proposed RAM No. 1 Mine should not be approved, opened and operated at the Nottingham Township site,” Solobay wrote.

Denny Franks, who lives near the proposed mine entrance, said Nottingham clearly doesn’t want the mine to locate in the neighborhood.

“It is too dirty, too dangerous and too disruptive,” Franks said.

A man who answered the telephone at RAMACO’s headquarters said no one was there Wednesday to discuss the mine protest.

On the company’s website it is now calling the operation MonView Mine, and indicates it’s looking at “additional acquisition targets in the area with multiple sellers.”

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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