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Environmental groups file 4th appeal of Consol Coal mine expansion

Consol Coal Resources LP is facing a fourth appeal of a permit to expand its Bailey Mine in western Pennsylvania, which could delay production plans at one of the most productive mines in the region.

The Center for Coalfield Justice and the Sierra Club on March 22 said they appealed a permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that would allow Consol to mine under a stream within Ryerson Station State Park. The groups said they will ask the state's Environmental Hearing Board to halt mining in the park while the appeal is considered. The board prevented the company from mining within 100 feet of Kent Run in the same park while it heard another appeal on the expansion of the Bailey complex.

The groups had won a favorable ruling from the board on what they said was a similar appeal. In that case, the board said it was a violation of state law to issue a permit when the activity would result in significant stream damage or pollution, even if the company commits to restoring the stream by reconstructing it.

The Bailey mine, part of Consol's Pennsylvania mining complex, produces coal using the longwall mining technique and often ranks as the most productive mine in Northern Appalachia. The company recently reported that coal production was impaired by about 200,000 tons in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a year ago due to unplanned longwall moves and a "permitting issue" at Bailey. CEO James Brock also said at the time that once the company mines through one of its current panels, it will then "be out of the state park" and has permits for the "next three years out there."

Consol did not immediately return a request for comment on the appeal.