Standing in Solidarity Against the Acosta Deep Mine

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Coal, Posts, Water | 2 comments

On June 8th, Governor Wolf and the employees, officials, and project partners of Corsa Coal celebrated the “Grand Opening” of the Acosta Deep Mine in Jenners Township, Somerset County – the same coal mine that President Trump touted in his speech announcing his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord last week. Meanwhile, a group of concerned community members – organized by Mountain Watershed Association, home of the Youghiogheny Riverkeeper – held a rally in opposition to the mine.  

The protesters gathered just 600 feet away from the mine pit, overlooking the ceremony, in the front yard of Mike and Mary Jo Picklo. With megaphones and speakers, we made our message clear to all the dignitaries celebrating the mine, reading statements written by local homeowners and chanting “No Deep Mine”, “Would you want to live here”, and “King Coal is a Dirty Old Soul”.

A few years ago, Mike and Mary Jo Picklo could walk onto their front porch and see the rolling hillsides of their community in Jenners Township. Now, all they see – and hear – is the blast site for the Acosta Deep Mine.

Since the new mine was announced, the Picklos have been doing what they can to fight against its opening. They worked to file a nuisance lawsuit against Corsa Coal, and they’ve filed complaints with DEP after the 61 blasts used to open up the mine released clouds of dust and dirt off the site and into their home and caused permanent damage from the vibrations. Yet, no action has been taken by Corsa Coal, and DEP dismissed these harms. 

Here is just one of those blasts.

“There are kids all around this area. A few weeks ago, a group of kids were running around the mine pit – if they would have fallen in, they would’ve died. That’s how deep it is,” Picklo stated, concerned about the lack of precautions taking place to protect local community members from the nearby mine.

When the Acosta mine opens in the upcoming weeks, the Picklos are concerned that the impacts to their environment, their home, and their community will only get worse. Across from their home, thousands of tons of coal will be hauled out of the mine, and coal dust and debris will likely make its way to them. With mining happening beside and underneath their homes, the Picklos and other nearby community members are worried that their water wells will be contaminated. In fact, a complaint is already under investigation for damage to their watershed from another nearby mining site.

Funded both by private investment and a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, the Acosta Mine has a questionable future resting upon the volatile prices for metallurgical coal. A year ago, producers were getting less than $80 per ton, but recently prices spiked to nearly $300 per ton after Cyclone Debbie destabilized Australia’s strong metallurgical coal market. However, prices are sharply declining once again as Australia’s market recovers. Since two-thirds of US steel is made using recycled scrap, Corsa will most likely depend on China – the largest importer of metallurgical coal – to buy the coal it produces at the Acosta mine.

Meanwhile, families like Mike and Mary Jo Picklo will have to suffer the consequences of mining coal in order to fuel another country’s steel industry. For this reason, Mountain Watershed Association and other concerned community members oppose the construction of the mine and are instead calling for a transition to sustainable jobs based on tourism, mine reclamation, agriculture, and solar to bring opportunity back to Southwestern Pennsylvania. We cannot continue to prop up the mining industry at the expense of residents living with the harms of extraction.

See coverage of Mountain Watershed’s protest against the Acosta Mine here

Photo Credit: John Harvey and Dan Gleiter

 

2 Comments

  1. I would like to stay updated with events going on in your local community to bring awareness to this issue.

    • Thank you, Samanth. We can add you to our mailing list so that you can receive update. Thank you for your support.

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