Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) announced that it has filed an appeal before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board against the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), claiming DEP had violated the law in granting an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit to Eagle Rock Resort Co., allowing the company to expand its development in Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties.
PennFuture is appealing the December 17, 2004 decision by DEP granting the resort a stormwater discharge permit for the expansion despite clear evidence that the company continues to fail to control erosion and sediment pollution in the existing resort.
"DEP has failed to meet its obligation to protect the waters of the Commonwealth," said Matthew Royer, PennFuture's staff attorney, who is handling the case. "Pennsylvania law requires that any company applying for a new permit must demonstrate that it is in compliance with all existing DEP permits, regulations and orders before it is given a new permit. Eagle Rock, however, has continuously failed to adequately control erosion and sedimentation. DEP should not be rewarding a company with permission to expand without first making that company correct its existing environmental problems."
In its appeal, PennFuture also claims that DEP was wrong to grant the new permit for construction on a large section of land when the company only provided stormwater control plans for a smaller, first section. The failure to require the company to submit plans for future phases of the development as part of its permit application means that interested members of the public will not have notice of plans and an opportunity to comment, undermining the public's right to participate in governmental decisions and citizens' right to due process.
"We urge DEP to recognize their errors and rescind this permit," continued Royer. "Environmental permit decisions must be based on the law and all available evidence. This permit fails on both accounts."
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and economy. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy. PennFuture's offices are located in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
A copy of the PennFuture appeal is available online at http://www.pennfuture.org/.