The PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, out of Wyomissing, PA, awarded EPCAMR a $5,000 grant through the Community Connector Grant Program based on our recent application for funding to conduct a Wyoming Valley Underground Mine Mapping Education and Outreach Program for local municipalities, focusing on those downstream of the proposed pipeline project. EPCAMR is the only environmental organization in Luzerne County to receive funding in this grant round. Executive Director, Robert Hughes, emphasizes, “there is a great need for local municipalities to have their own copies of surface and underground mine maps.”
EPCAMR intends to utilize these funds for staff time and printing costs of the mine maps for each of the municipalities within the Anthracite coal measures, such as Wyoming Borough, Jenkins Township, Plains Township, and Shickshinny Borough. If there are any municipalities, central to Wyoming Valley, that would like to host a few workshops to aid in conducting the underground mine map outreach component of the grant, please contact Robert at (570) 371-3523.
“EPCAMR is skilled in interpreting surface and underground mine maps and would like to continue to provide technical assistance to the public and our local governments. We also have the printing capabilities to produce large maps, which are easy to view,” says Robert.
Large maps are available for review at the Pittsburgh Office of Surface Mining (OSM), where many maps were transferred, following the closure of the Wilkes-Barre Regional Office several years ago. Maps are also available at Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (PA DEP BAMR) and the PA DEP Regional District Mining Office Bureau of Deep Mine Safety in Pottsville, PA. Due to the condition, size, and continual use of the maps by these state agencies, a large majority of the maps generally stay within these offices.
EPCAMR has been able to acquire a large majority of the OSM Folio maps in digital format over the last few years and are still actively acquiring maps under a 3-year grant agreement with the PA DEP Mine Subsidence Insurance Program. EPCAMR staff scans, catalogues, geo-references, and digitizes the maps for public use. Nearly 10,000 maps have already been approved by the PA DEP and posted to the PA Mine Map Atlas. However, our scope of work requires us to take certain map collections, based on specific storage locations of the maps. The PennEast Community Connector Grant will allow us to focus on some of the maps that we have already processed. Many municipalities do not have the staffing, expertise, funding, or printing capabilities to acquire the maps needed for their own planning efforts or efforts of the public seeking information about the underground mine or surface maps.
EPCAMR staff catalogues the data collected from these maps in the Pennsylvania Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System (PHUMMIS). This database contains information relevant to past and present underground mining throughout Pennsylvania, including, but not limited to, maps, indices, mine locations, and the like. The information contained in this database has been compiled from various sources and, as a result, neither the DEP or EPCAMR can guarantee its accuracy. The DEP and EPCAMR assume no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the database. The DEP and EPCAMR disclaim any responsibility for any actions, or lack thereof, taken in reliance on the information contained in the database. Users agree that the DEP and EPCAMR employees, officers, agents, and contractors are not and will not be liable for any damages or losses of any kind, resulting directly or indirectly from the reliance on the information contained in the database.
EPCAMR is an advocate for the environment and protection of land and water resources that have been adversely affected by past mining practices throughout Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania. During the grant review process, the Selection Committee identified a number of strengths in our proposal. EPCAMR is an advocate for safe practices when it comes to the construction of the pipeline in the chosen area. Given the Wyoming Valley’s past mining and flooding history, we recommended redirecting the pipeline around the Valley, however, PennEast still chose to fund EPCAMR, based on our merit to provide valuable technical assistance to the downstream communities in the Wyoming Valley.
The sets of maps that will be provided to local municipalities will ultimately provide PennEast with geologic and hydrogeologic conditions of the proposed pipeline crossing area. EPCAMR was very upfront with PennEast at the initial public hearing and in our comments to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). PennEast may have difficulty finding a safe river crossing for placement of the 36-42 inch transmission line. “EPCAMR has a means of researching the conditions of the underground mine workings in the Wyoming Valley to make a determination as to what lies beneath not only our homes, but our river as well. This funding could not have come at a better time for EPCAMR, when funding sources are getting harder and harder to come by. We feel privileged for the opportunity to provide these valuable technical services to our local governments in need of this information. EPCAMR staff seeks funds from all types of sources that will allow us to work in the best interest of the public,” explained Robert.
Alisa E. Harris, Head of Government and Community Affairs, mentioned in her award letter to EPCAMR that “the PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, is pleased to support your efforts and we look forward to building a strong partnership to advancing our mutual commitment to environment and energy education. Community engagement is important to PennEast. The Community Connector Grant Program is another excellent opportunity for us to support the communities where we operate and where our employees make their home.” The PennEast press release can be found here.