Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic
Preventing New Coal-Fired Power Plant and Harmful Minefilling Activities in Pennsylvania
The 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 coal refuse site near Pittsburgh. Its owner sought permits to construct a power plant next to the site that would burn more of the mountain of coal refuse stored on-site, a much dirtier and less energy efficient fuel source than ordinary coal, and return the heavy metals-laden coal ash to the site as part of its "reclamation" plan.
Through site inspections, public comments, and other efforts, the Clinic put 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. By highlighting this pervasive noncompliance, the Clinic demonstrated that the operator should not be entrusted with greater environmental responsibilities involved with operating a new coal-fired power plant. The Clinic's work also called attention to the inappropriateness of using the Beech Hollow site for extensive disposal of toxic coal combustion waste, as proposed by Champion. In December 2012, the owner indicated that plans to construct the coal-fired power plant would be shelved indefinitely.