quite adorns a country scene like a lake -- and Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County was once a popular spot for swimming, fishing and boating. But in July 2005 the lake was drained amid safety concerns after inspections of the dam forming the lake found it to be cracked and leaking. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources determined the dam was damaged by ground subsidence caused by a Consol Energy longwall coal mine -- which triggered a lawsuit and set off long negotiations. Last week, DCNR announced a settlement with Consol that will restore the lake by the summer of 2017 and add 506 acres to the park. Consol will pay the state $36 million to replace the dam and in turn be able to drill for natural gas under the park from well pads outside park boundaries -- new activity worth its own careful monitoring.
PROTESTERS came by water and land to Washington's Landing on the Allegheny River on Monday -- Earth Day -- to speak out on what they say is the state Department of Environmental Protection's inadequate regulation of fossil fuel industries, in particular the fracking of Marcellus Shale gas deposits. The 75 activists, from a coalition of more than 60 groups, crowded the lobby of DEP's Southwest Regional Office. Their demands included a halt to gas drilling and the appointment of a new DEP secretary to replace Michael Krancer, who resigned this month, with no ties to the gas or oil industries. The Post-Gazette does not support a drilling ban, but a DEP chief with no industry connection might reassure Pennsylvanians who are skeptical of DEP's oversight of drilling practices. There's a lake of fear and suspicion out there that needs to be drained.
SOMETIMES complaints pay off. It wasn't an environmental issue, but the unfinished addition at the former Hilton Hotel -- now the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown -- was a blot on the scenic face of the city. A building permit was issued in 2007, but unpaid bills, a bankruptcy and a change in ownership halted work and left an ugly skeleton of steel framing. But now the job of putting in a new ballroom, swimming pool and spa is almost done -- and it's looking good.