New Mine Spurs Questions

Meeting about Mon complex draws 100 people

Morgantown Dominion Post
18 January 2012
By Ben Conley

About 100 people gathered in the Clay-Battelle High School auditorium Tuesday night during the first public meeting regarding a new longwall mining complex CONSOL hopes to build.

The gathering was organized by the Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), which is doing an environmental impact study of the proposed mine and related processing facilities — refuse disposal site, preparation plant, fresh water impoundment and new railway line.

“The intent of tonight is not to answer every question you have, the intent is to find out what those questions are, so we can go out and try to find the answers,” said Scott Hans, the district regulatory branch chief for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The meeting opened with a brief presentation from the corps. They outlined their role as one of the permitting entities that CONSOL subsidiary Wolfpen Knob Development Company will have to satisfy before the project is given the go-ahead. Among their areas of focus are the 85,812 linear feet of stream — Dunkard Creek draining east and Church Creek draining west — and 9.42 acres of wetland labeled as “aquatic impacts” on an ACOE fact sheet.

Representatives from Wolfpen Knob laid out some of the potential economic benefits to the area, including 400 hourly and 100 salary jobs with the mine, and roughly 2,600 ancillary positions the mine would bring with it.

Wolfpen puts a number of $1.5 billion in taxable wages to employees over the 30-year life of the mine, which would be about a mile from Wadestown. They also calculate the project would translate to $3.25 million annually in property taxes.

The meeting picked up considerably when the microphone was turned over for questions from the audience. Questions came from two groups: Residents and property owners near the proposed 3,200 acre project, and coal miners.

David and Lori Wilfong live on property adjacent to land marked as part of the potential refuse disposal area.

“I’m not opposed to the project, I think it’s a good thing in the jobs that it would provide. My ultimate question, though, is how that is going to impact our property and our way of lifestyle there, being that I’m on top of that mountain looking right down into that refuse area?”

Coal miners in the crowd were worried that the new mine would ultimately take work away from them. They were concerned that the money CONSOL would spend to get the new mine up and running would be far more than it would take to give existing mines the ability to go after the same coal.

CONSOL representatives would not comment on the future of existing mines or whether the new jobs would be union, stating only that it would be a choice of the employee.

Members of the crowd seemed dissatisfied at times with the lack of concrete answers they were receiving, but Hans assured them their concerns are going to be addressed and there would be more opportunity for public input as the project moves forward.

“This is only the very beginning,” he said.

COMMENTS on the proposed mine can be emailed to mason.dixon@