Longwall Mining Permit In Pennsylvania

In People United to Save Homes (PUSH) v. Department of Environmental Protection, 789 A.2d 319 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001), the petitioner, a citizens group, challenged the Department's approval of a permit revision to allow longwall mining. The petitioner contended that the mining operator's application did not comply with Section 5(e) of the Mine Subsidence Act even though the operator had adopted measures to prevent subsidence "to the extent technologically and economically feasible." The petitioner argued that Section 5(e) should be interpreted to mean that mining should not be allowed unless the operator was able to prevent any damage to homes caused by subsidence. The Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) held, however, that Section 5(e) permitted "longwall mining unless the homes undermined would be irreparably harmed." Id. at 328 This Court affirmed the EHB, explaining that, under Sections 5(e) and 9.1(d), coal mining companies were required to adopt measures that would prevent material damage to surface structures to the extent technologically and economically feasible, and if mining were to result in irreparable damage, the Department could prohibit such mining. Id. at 325.