Skip Navigation

Website Sections

Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic

Preventing New Coal-Fired Power Plant and Harmful Minefilling Activities in Pennsylvania

harmful minefilling Activities in PAThe Clinic has been working with the Environmental Integrity Project and Residents Against the Power Plant on coal issues in western Pennsylvania. Beech Hollow is an enormous former coal mining site near Pittsburgh owned and operated by Champion Processing, Inc. Champion is seeking permits for the construction of a waste coal burning facility at the site, which would burn the mountain of coal tailings stored on-site, a much dirtier and less energy efficient fuel source than ordinary coal. Through site inspections, public comments, and other efforts, the Clinic is putting pressure on the state agency to strengthen its enforcement of Champion's existing wastewater and mining permit as the company has been improperly managing the site's acid mine drainage for years, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been largely ignoring noncompliance with applicable mining and water quality protection laws. By highlighting this pervasive noncompliance, the Clinic has been demonstrating that it would be inappropriate to entrust this operator with the even greater environmental responsibilities that would be involved with operating a new coal-fired power plant. The Clinic's work is also calling attention to the inappropriateness of using the Beech Hollow site for extensive disposal of toxic coal combustion waste, as proposed by Champion. Most recently, the Clinic has persuaded the U.S. Office of Surface Mining to conduct a federal inspection of the site during which the agency identified numerous ongoing violations.