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UPDATED: EHB Denies DEP Request to Certify Appeal in Erie Coke Case, Says it’s “Not Worthwhile;” 3 New NOVs Issued

By way of an Opinion and Order issued Thursday, the Environmental Hearing Board essentially ended the Department of Environmental Protection’s bid to appeal the Board’s Aug. 28 granting of supersedeas to Erie Coke.

The supersedeas decision allowed Erie Coke to continue operations at its facility – subject to certain restrictions – pending the outcome of its appeal of DEP’s denial of the company’s air quality operating permit renewal application.

The decision issued yesterday all but assures that Erie Coke’s fate now hangs on the outcome of the February 2020 hearings in the appeal case.

Specifically, the Environmental Hearing Board denied the Department of Environmental Protection’s motion requesting the Board amend its Supersedeas Opinion and Order regarding Erie Coke to certify two questions for immediate appeal to the Commonwealth Court.

Judge Steven C. Beckman wrote that “[c]ertifying the two questions will not materially advance the ultimate termination of Erie Coke’s appeal of the Department’s denial of its Title V Permit renewal application and neither of the two questions involves a controlling question of law.”

While GASP respects the Board’s position that “these types of appeals are not favored by the law,” we remain very concerned about the potential adverse health impacts to Erie residents while the supersedeas is in place. GASP strongly believes neither Erie Coke’s evidence nor the Board’s Aug. 28 Opinion and Order gave local residents any solid assurances that they would be free from harm while the appeals process plays out.

You can read the entire order here. 

Meanwhile, DEP this week published three new notice of violation letters against Erie Coke Corp.

The NOVs were dated Sept. 4, Sept. 20 and Sept. 25. The Sept. 4 and Sept. 25 NOVs stemmed from incidents on Aug. 29 and Sept. 22 during which DEP inspectors noted off take leaks greater than 5 percent, which they said was in violation of both state law and the company’s expired operating permit. The NOV dated Sept. 20 stemmed from a Sept. 11 inspection during which DEP reported pushing emissions with an opacity greater than 20 percent.

DEP requested Erie Coke submit written responses to both letters “explaining what actions you will take to correct the violation and prevent future violations.”

The Sept. 4 letter can be viewed here. The Sept. 25 letter can be viewed here.

Editor’s Note: Here’s the media coverage so far…

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