The Ram Mine Has Been Denied

Posted Feb 14, 2024, by Ethan Story

Mingo Creek taken by Allison Evans
Mingo Creek taken by Allison Evans

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) accepted an application for a new underground mine – the Ram No. 1 Mine – on February 25, 2015. Ram Mining, LLC (RAM), a Kentucky-based company with a history of coal mining in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia, submitted the application. RAM’s application has been peppered with issues. Since 2015, the Department has issued six technical deficiency letters, each laying out several problems with the proposed mining operation. As it appears, RAM could never correct or clarify all the issues that were noted by the Department. So, on September 6, 2023, DEP denied RAM’s full application - the first denial of a coal permit since 1994.

During the entire time that the Department was reviewing RAM’s application, the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) was working alongside community members and the community group Protectors of Mingo (POM) to protect the proposed area of the mine, and with good reason. The mine would not only affect many of the tributaries and waterways in the area, but would also bring increased truck traffic, air, water, and noise pollution. CCJ and POM have been observing, filing public comments, and challenging several aspects of the application since its introduction.

The footprint of the proposed mine would have included certain areas of Nottingham and Peters Township in Washington County, which could have affected Mingo Creek County Park and many of its tributaries, including Little Mingo Creek. In its denial letter, DEP highlighted several issues that RAM needed to address in order for its application to be sufficient, pointing out that there was a “high probability” that the undermining would lead to permanent “material damage to the hydrologic balance” to specific streams in the area. Additionally, DEP had fears that RAM’s application did not mitigate issues with its proposed water discharge process. DEP stated that RAM’s proposal was “presumptive evidence of potential pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth.”

In response to the September 6, 2023, denial letter, RAM filed an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). In its appeal, RAM argued that it made “considerable efforts” to meet the requirements set by the DEP. However, just four months later, RAM withdrew its appeal from the EHB.

So… what does this mean? The mine will not be developed: community solidarity and public pressure worked. It means that DEP has denied the proposed mine and that RAM is not disputing that denial. This is a massive win for the Washington County community, which has fought this mine for upwards of a decade. CCJ is excited to celebrate this historic win with the community members who have stood up to this mine for years. 

As change is the only constant in Southwest Pennsylvania, CCJ will watch for any updates or changes to this proposed mine.


  • Ethan Story

    Ethan comes to CCJ with a J.D. and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. While attending Vermont Law School, Ethan worked as a Research Associate with the Water and Justice Program. In this role, he worked with diverse stakeholders to help protect their access to reliable, clean water. Ethan also interned with the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where he worked on issues ranging from coal and oil and gas development to water treatment facilities. He has been published on the subjects of public trust, water rights, and other environmental issues. When he is not at work, he spends time with his family, running, and fly fishing one of PA’s many beautiful rivers. Contact Ethan at ethan@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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