Amerikohl – Chestnut Ridge – DEP

– PA Supreme Court

The DEP Knox District Mining Office began their Technical Review of Amerikohl Aggregates Permit Application, 16150302, for a limestone strip-mine on Chestnut Ridge on October 19, 2016. PA DEP held a public hearing at the Knox District Office on January 25, 2017. The Technical Review was to be completed and a decision made no later than May 29, 2017. DEP has issued Amerikohl three deficiency letters during their review. On May 26, 2017, Amerikohl filed a civil complaint in the Clarion County Court of Common Pleas. Amerikohl requested a time extension from the PA DEP and one was granted.
On June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court issued a 5 to 2 decision on Docket # J-35-2016 No. 10 MAP 2015. Recognized legal scholars view this decision as greatly strengthening the Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to Pennsylvania Constitution by broadly interpreting the Commonwealth’s role as trustee for public resources. This decision is a victory for environmental advocates and will require the Commonwealth, particularly the PA DEP, to give increased scrutiny to projects that they review.
The PA Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) states that “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” The ERA includes these among Pennsylvania’s public natural resources and goes on to state that “As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
Amerikohl has applied for a permit that would allow them for at the least five to ten years to dig, blast and push a gash almost a mile long, several hundred feet wide and fifty to one hundred feet deep along Chestnut Ridge in an effort to harvest three million tons of limestone. That does not remotely resemble conserving, maintaining and preserving the natural scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. The June 20, 2017 PA Supreme Court Ruling serves as a reminder to the PA DEP Knox District Mining that they have a duty and responsibility to deny this permit.

LeRoy Best
Richland Twp, Emlenton PA