Watchdog Group Issues Study Critical Of DEP's Longwall Mining Regulation

A study by a coal mining watchdog group says Pennsylvania's law regulating longwall mining allows subsidence that damages wetlands and streams. The Allegheny Front's Ryan Delaney has the details.

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DELANEY: The Citizen's Coal Council was critical of the Department of Environmental Protection's five year review of Act 54. That's the state's 1994 mining law.

The council study focuses specifically on the longwall mining method that can collapse mine shafts as it removes coal and disrupt stream patterns and property above ground.

The council is pushing for Act 54 to be amended. Executive Director Aimee Erickson couldn't say exactly what those changes should be, but says she wants more protection of waterways.

ERICKSON: When Act 54 was passed, they didn't really think about the streams and the impacts that it would have. So whatever it is that is changed, you better believe we'll focus on protection of streams and our water resources.

DELANEY: The DEP's Citizen's Advisory Council heard testimony this week from both the coal council and industry representatives on longwall mining. Advisory Council Executive Director Sue Wilson says they will consider both reports along with the testimonies before making any recommendations.

The Citizen's Coal Council, a national organization based south of Pittsburgh, in Bridgeville, contracted ecological consulting firm Schmid and Company to conduct the study.

The DEP issued a statement saying it has not had time to fully review the analysis yet, but it stands by its initial report saying the impact of longwall mining has decreased.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Ryan Delaney.