DEP is highly regarded in permitting of mines

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In a recent article, the Post-Gazette irresponsibly promoted a report released by the Citizens Coal Council that unfairly alleges the state Department of Environmental Protection’s permit review process for longwall mine permits does not properly protect the environment (“Report Criticizes State’s Longwall Mining Regulation,” July 22).

Unfortunately, the article misleads readers, and I would like to clarify the facts.

The article focused on the report’s criticism of DEP’s permit application review for a 2010 permit application for the Foundation Mine, a large underground mine complex in Greene County. However, a key point received much less emphasis — the permit application review process was never completed and a permit was never issued for the proposed mining project.

In the midst of its rigorous technical review, DEP recommended that the application be withdrawn in 2013, before staff had an opportunity to assess potential impacts to watersheds. Consequently, an evaluation of an incomplete permit application review can hardly be used as a valid case study to judge the permit application review process for new longwall coal mines.

Reporting on an assessment that draws negative conclusions based on one underground mine permit out of the 30 new and amended applications that DEP staff review in a year’s time is misinformed, unbalanced and irresponsible.

Pennsylvania is highly regarded as a leader in safely permitting underground mining. DEP’s mine permitting process is extensive and regularly monitored and modified if needed to ensure that Pennsylvania’s air, land and water are protected.

JOHN STEFANKO
Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Harrisburg


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