Rustic Ridge mine permit hearing rescheduled for Jan. 31 |

Rustic Ridge mine permit hearing rescheduled for Jan. 31

Stephen Huba

A hearing on the Rustic Ridge No. 1 Deep Mine permit appeal that had been scheduled for Monday has been postponed until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board said the rescheduled start date was requested by the parties. The hearing will be held in the board’s Pittsburgh office before Judge Bernard A. Labuskes Jr. and could last through Thursday.

The Mountain Watershed Association, a Fayette County conservation group, is challenging the mining permit over concerns that the room-and-pillar mine will pollute local waterways and lower property values.

Johnstown-based LCT Energy LP has proposed to mine 2,886 acres of the Lower Kittanning coal seam in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, and Saltlick Township, Fayette County.

The company, a division of Robindale Energy, began designing the Rustic Ridge mine in 2010 and obtained the necessary permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in December 2016.

A year later, nearby homeowners were informed by mail that they were entitled to a pre-blast survey of their structures, wells and water systems. Such a survey is required for properties within a half-mile radius of the blasting zone.

The notices indicated that blasting was scheduled to begin Jan. 22, but that also has been postponed.

DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said LCT Energy has not submitted a final blast plan, so no blasting can occur. The mining permit prohibits blasting until a final plan is approved by the DEP, she said.

Meanwhile, the company has informed the DEP that it will limit its activities to site development, Fraley said.

The Environmental Hearing Board’s docket shows further hearing dates in the matter scheduled for Feb. 6-9, Feb. 26-27, March 12-16, April 3-6 and April 9-10. It is unclear whether the hearing will require that amount of time.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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