Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield) introduced House Bill 1967 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) this week that would eliminate the current DEP limit on temporarily ceasing surface coal mining operations of 180 days and replace it with the less stringent federal requirement that has no specific time frames.
This would allow surface coal mines to remain open and unreclaimed potentially for years since the term of permits varies with the size and complexity of the mining operations. DEP’s regulations require the agency to review an active permit every five years.
Rep. Gabler said this measure was necessary because the Pennsylvania coal industry is experiencing severe economic hardships.
While the legislation says the mine operator remains responsible for all permit obligations, clearly in this economic climate for coal, this bill would give mine operators license to simply disappear without reclaiming the site.A sponsor summary of this bill is available online.