Erie Coke, DEP to Begin Arguments Wednesday Over Whether Company Can Continue to Operate Pending Per
Erie Coke Corp. and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will appear before Environmental Hearing Board Judge Steven C. Beckman Wednesday afternoon to begin arguments addressing the company’s ability to continue operations.
DEP’s July 1 denial of Erie Coke’s air quality permit application had the effect of invalidating the company’s existing air quality permit. Erie Coke appealed that action, but to continue operations at the facility pending the outcome of that appeal the company on July 3 filed an Application for Temporary Supersedeas and Petition for Supersedeas with the state’s Environmental Hearing Board.
In the Petition, Erie Coke argued that “[u]nless supersedeas is granted, the Denial will permanently destroy Erie Coke’s primary asset – its two batteries of coke ovens – thereby forcing Erie Coke out of business, causing the permanent loss of 137 living-wage jobs, and the Erie economy’s loss of approximately $5 million in annual payroll.”
Beckman granted temporary supersedeas on July 5, but that determination is not final. Erie Coke and the DEP still must present their respective cases as to the merits of allowing the facility to stay open for the duration of Erie Coke’s appeal proceedings.
Attorneys for DEP responded to Erie Coke’s Petition in a July 6 brief, which provided its argument for why the EHB should prevent Erie Coke from continuing to operate.
The DEP argued, “Erie Coke’s petition for supersedeas demonstrates that pollution will result or be threatened during the period when any supersedeas is in effect because Erie Coke’s operation of the coke oven and the boilers at the facility emit hazardous air pollutants, such as benzene and air pollutants such as Sulfur oxides (SO2) and Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOCs”).”
Also before the Environmental Hearing Board is a motion for admission pro hac vice filed by Erie Coke. If granted, the motion would allow another attorney, in this case, C. Max Zygmon, to be admitted to practice in the case despite not being licensed in this jurisdiction—which is a common legal maneuver.
In an order filed today, EHB Judge Stephen C. Beckman advised both parties to submit motions on these matters by 1 pm. Tuesday.
Editor’s Note: Local news media continues to cover the story. Check out the latest media coverage below.
“Erie Coke Plant to Keep Operating Pending Ruling on Appeal,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
For those who would like to take a look at the source documents: