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Environment & Energy

Coal Company Wants PennDOT to Pay

A road is being built over land that can be mined for coal, and a lawyer is trying to figure out how his client will be compensated.

Robert Lightcap is an attorney for Penn Pocahantas Coal Company which owns approximately 16 blocks of coal covering several thousand acres in Somerset County where Route 219 is being constructed.

The highway will go over the coal reserves owned by his client.

Some of the coal is in release to PBS Coals. They already had a planned, permitted mine in place. Lightcap says acres of coal will be lost because of the road project.

“The remaining portion is directly under the highway and are being taken as support coal because they will no longer be able to mine those blocks of coal because they are needed to be left behind to support the highway,” Lightcap said.

They don’t have valuation in place but are working with engineers to determine the extent of the losses. Lightcap estimates the loss will be in the seven figures.

This has been ongoing for the past five years.

Lightcap said coal cases and condemnations for highways is a very unusual situation in Pennsylvania. For one, coal mining only affects small portions of the state.

The state mining commission, who has jurisdiction over these cases, will establish a value of the total amount of coal on the properties for condemnation and before the start of construction. Then they will estimate the amount of coal which is capable of being mined after the condemnation. Then they will subtract the second from the first and the difference is the value of the coal, which was lost.

“The value depends on whether they accept our professional apprasiers or whether they accept PennDOT’s professional appraisers,” Lightcap said.