This article involves the PA. Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) office for the southwestern part of the state, which includes many mining operations.
"The Corbett administration forced one longtime legal leader to resign, and its appointment of a replacement was thwarted by federal conflict-of-interest rules... The turmoil has occurred in one of the state's most legally complicated environmental regions and could, in time, affect work on administrative orders and enforcement cases involving coal mining, air and water pollution, and oil and gas drilling and development, observers say...That followed the administration's forced resignation in July of longtime regional counsel Diana Stares.Photo of the Day Duke Lake died:
...Consol, the state's largest underground coal mining company, has been a party to dozens of past and present legal actions involving the DEP in the 10-county southwest region. ...Robert Ging, an environmental attorney in Somerset County, said the firing of Ms. Stares seems to have had a "chilling effect" on the department throughout the state.
Ms. Stares was forced to resign after she refused an order to fire a DEP attorney in the southwest regional office who, coincidentally, was working on a case involving a coal mine owned by Consol Energy. That case involves the company's appeal of a state order to pay more than $20 million to replace the Duke Lake Dam at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County. A state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources study determined that Consol's Bailey Mine caused subsidence that cracked the dam. The company disputes that finding and has appealed to the state Environmental Hearing Board.
... Mr. Aichele ordered DEP chief counsel David Raphael to fire the DEP attorney working on the Consol dam damage case over a legal strategy that had been previously approved. Mr. Raphael, in turn, directed Ms. Stares to carry out that order, and she refused... The DEP attorney on the Consol dam damage case was subsequently called to Harrisburg and chastised in a meeting with Mr. Aichele but not fired. "
Much more at:
February 9, 2012
"The Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) (www.coalfieldjustice.org) today submitted its response to a motion for summary judgment filed last month by CONSOL Energy with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. CCJ’s motion outlines the numerous reasons why CONSOL should not be allowed to further delay the restoration of Duke Lake.
Specifically, CCJ’s motion, filed with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board, rejects CONSOL’s narrow reading of its responsibilities under the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act.
“CONSOL’s reading of the law would make it nearly impossible for it to be accountable for their damage to others’ property,” said Patrick Grenter, Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice. “Duke Lake was the gem of Greene County’s only state park. It was a place for families to swim, fish and recreate. Now an entire generation of youth is missing the treasures that Ryerson held for so many that came before. CONSOL must be held accountable for its destructive actions.”
In July 2005, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources responded to dangerously unstable conditions at the dam in Ryerson Station State Park by draining Duke Lake. The conditions were discovered by the Commonwealth to have been caused by subsidence assigned to CONSOL’s activities at the Bailey Mine."