Home Environment Groups file appeal for coal mine permit in the Perry State Forest area

Groups file appeal for coal mine permit in the Perry State Forest area

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Environmental groups are fighting proposed mining of Perry State Forest.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), along with Friends of Perry State Forest, filed an appeal to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission to challenge a permit submitted by the Oxford Mining Company to strip mine 500 acres of the Perry State Forest. The strip mine will comprise surface mining and an open pit mine for the removal of heavy metals and coal.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is currently reviewing the permit application from Oxford Mining Company.

The appeal from the OEC and Friends of Perry State Forest challenges the Clean Water Act permit, on grounds that, if approved, it will allow Oxford to discharge mine-related wastewater into a tributary of Rush Creek, which flows into the Hocking River and other connected bodies of water.

“The Ohio EPA did not take into account the ability of the Oxford company cleaning efforts after its done mining,”  Nathan Johnson, director of public lands at the OEC, said.

“It’s not clear how they will clean after they’re done mining and the company has a history of failing with mitigating their actions.”

The appeal states the permit issued under the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) lacks fundamental requirements and criteria that ensure safe disposal into the nearby waterways. It also describes the lack of a pollution abatement plan and the company’s exemption from conducting baseline water quality sampling.

“As neighboring landowners and farmers, we strongly oppose this mine,” Lauren Ketcham of Down the Road Farm in New Lexington said in an email. “This would set a dangerous precedent for re-mining the Perry State Forest, potentially opening the door to mining in other parts of this public land as well. That could literally put a coal mine in our backyard, which would put us out of business.”

The groups asked the Environmental Review Appeals Commission to send the permit back to OEPA for reconsideration. In the meantime, ODNR is expected to hold a public meeting in New Lexington sometime this winter.

The New Political reached out to the Oxford Mining Company and its subsidiary, Westmoreland Coal Company. There was no official comment by the time of publication.

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