Coal Mining has been prevalent in southwestern Pennsylvania for over 100 years. Over time, the industry has become more mechanized, with less need of a workforce and causing more severe damage, which has impacted our water and land at a systemic level.

Below you will find more information about the impacts of coal extraction and use and the ways in which the Center for Coalfield Justice has been working to prevent harms to our communities.

Impacts of Coal Mining

Coal Mining
Longwall Mining

Longwall Mining

Longwall mining is a deep mining technique which extracts coal in long panels, resulting in layers of rock collapsing into the void left by the removal of the coal seam, which is known as "subsidence." This mining practice and the subsidence it causes have a variety of effects on natural and man-made features in Southwestern Pennsylvania communities.

Coal Waste
Coal Refuse and Slurry

Coal Refuse and Slurry

Coal refuse and slurry is liquid and solid waste from processing coal after it has been mined. Coal processing creates millions tons of waste that companies dispose of by filling in valleys.

Coal Ash
Coal Ash

Coal Ash

Coal ash is the toxic byproduct of burning coal.  In Southwestern PA there are a number of coal ash disposal sites, including massive coal ash dumps in La Belle, PA, and in Georgetown, PA, right next to communities where people have been fighting to shut them down for years.

Supplementary Resources

To learn more, click below to view a page of supplementary resources on the subject of coal extraction and its impact.

Our Coal Work

Organizing, educating, and advocating for better protections from coal mining is where our organization started, and this is still a critical part of our work. All of this work has centered around supporting people in the community to protect their homes, land, health, and the ecological health and recreational use of public land.

Protecting Dutch Fork Lake

Alliance Coal has been expanding the footprint of the Tunnel Ridge mine into western Washington County. The latest permit application will bring the mining operations beneath the headwaters of Dutch Fork Lake. This is a public PA Fish and Boat Commission lake that is widely used for fishing and boating. We are partnering with the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association in working with community members to ensure that coal mining does not take away the community’s enjoyment of this resource.

tunnel ridge community meeting

Assisting Residents with impacts from coal extraction and use

The coal mines in Washington and Greene County are still operating and expanding. We work with residents so that they know what their rights are around coal mining and regulations and to support them in protecting their homes and water from being harmed.


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