Consol, PA regulators make lake deal

THE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and producer Consol Energy have come to an agreement that will bring back to life a lake in the southeast portion of the state and add additional acreage to the state park it encompasses.
Consol, PA regulators make lake deal Consol, PA regulators make lake deal Consol, PA regulators make lake deal Consol, PA regulators make lake deal Consol, PA regulators make lake deal

Duke Lake at Ryerson Station Dam in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Donna Schmidt

The DCNR confirmed that Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County, which was emptied in July 2005 for safety reasons after cracks and water seepage were discovered, will be replaced and restored by the northern summer of 2017 at a cost of $US36 million to Consol.

Consol will also give DCNR eight plots of land bordering the park totaling 506 acres, all of which DCNR will add to the park's total recreational space and the company will build a park maintenance building for DCNR at the park.

The producer also agreed to monitor stream flows and ground movement with oversight from the Department of Environmental Protection.

No mining will be permitted beneath the dam and Duke Lake and the producer will be prohibited from using any water from the park for drilling activities.

Consol also agreed to not drill on state park lands, including where it is already legally allowed to drill by current rights.

Under the agreement, the DCNR will receive an 18% royalty payment for gas production from wells under the park once Consol realizes $13.7 million from the activity and the funds will be earmarked to the oil and gas lease fund.

It will also permit Consol to drill for natural gas underneath the park, though only from well pads outside park boundaries.

Finally, the DCNR agreed to allow longwall mining under a portion of the eastern area of the park should the producer receive needed DEP permits for the work.

“Greene County lost a significant recreational resource when the lake was drawn down and many residents and community members expressed the need to get the dam replaced as soon as possible," DCNR secretary Richard Allan said.

"This resolution will put us on the fastest track possible to bring back Duke Lake and as an added bonus will result in 506 additional acres of land for the park, an increase of more than 40 per cent of the total current acreage."

The two had been through years of litigation over the area after the DCNR claimed that the dam and lake were damaged by longwall mining, while Consol denied the allegations.

The final settlement was the result of a two-month mediation process and public comment period.

The DCNR and its contractor are permitting with DEP's Division of Dam Safety and the DEP anticipates the final permit will be conveyed in October 2014.

The project will then be put out for a competitive bid.

The expected construction start date is spring 2015 for a 2017 opening.

Consol president Nicholas Deluliis said the company was pleased with the statement.

“This agreement is proof-positive that with strong leadership and sustained focus on a common goal, collaboration does deliver results,” he said.

“The Ryerson Station State Park settlement achieves the desired objective of restoring and improving this tremendous regional amenity to Greene County and southwestern Pennsylvania as a recreational and tourist destination for generations to come.

“This settlement … avoids a long and protracted legal process … and we compliment the dedicated efforts of all parties involved.”

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