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Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Announces Termination of Permit for Proposed Coal Mine in the Perry State Forest 

On January 30, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) announced it will terminate CCU Coal and Construction’s wastewater discharge permit for a proposed coal mine in the Perry State Forest. The termination of the permit came at the request of the coal company, according to OEPA, and will take effect April 1, 2020.

“This is a huge victory for our community and our forest,” said Lauren Ketcham, a New Lexington farmer and public relations chair for Friends of Perry State Forest. “The state heard from more than 1,000 local residents, businesses and recreationists who spoke loud and clear that they didn’t want to see our public forest handed over to a private company to be destroyed.”

Friends of Perry State Forest, a group of concerned citizens, all-purpose vehicle (APV) riders, farmers and business owners, has been working since early 2018 to protect the Perry State Forest from the proposed strip mine which would have claimed about 500 acres of public land and caused harm to local residents. The state forest is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Zanesville, OH in Perry County.

On January 22, 2019, Friends of Perry State Forest and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), a state-wide environmental advocacy organization, filed an appeal of the OEPA’s wastewater discharge permit with the Environmental Review Appeals Commission.

“With Ohio already experiencing the impacts of climate change, we shouldn’t be mining more coal, especially from beneath a special place like Perry State Forest,” said Chris Tavenor, staff attorney for the OEC. “This is a big win for our state forests, surrounding communities and our climate. We are thrilled to continue working alongside Friends of Perry State Forest to protect Ohio’s public lands.”

Ketcham said, “The revocation of the wastewater discharge permit brings this project one step closer to termination. We hope the mine’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources permit application will also be withdrawn and that the agency will move quickly to revegetate and restore the forest that was clear cut, to prevent further erosion and invasive species, and to once again allow the public to enjoy this land.”

Questions about OEPA’s citizen advisory should be directed to Jessica Johnson, OEPA Public Information Officer, at (614) 644-2160 or jessica.johnson@epa.ohio.gov.

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Friends of Perry State Forest is a group of concerned residents and recreationists who want to protect Perry State Forest. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/FriendsofPerryStateForest

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive, effective and respected environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land and water for all who call Ohio home. Learn more at theoec.org.