Two hearings will be held before two different judges this week.
This is a very important week for Erie Coke as two important proceedings will take place that will determine if the plant stays open. The proceedings come after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), one week ago, denied the company’s application to renew its operating permit and requested a court injunction to close down the plant.
Tomorrow, Judge Daniel Brabender will preside at a hearing at the Erie County Courthouse on the DEP’s request for an injunction to shut down the plant.
Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board will hold a hearing on the DEP’s action to deny Erie Coke its operating permit renewal.
In both cases, Erie Coke will no doubt argue that it wants to make improvements to the plant to comply with the state’s air pollution laws. However, those improvements would take time. Erie Coke will ask the judges for that time.
The DEP will ask the judges to think about public health. The DEP believes Erie Coke will continue to pollute the air until those improvements can be made.
Erie Coke will also remind the judges that a coke plant cannot simply be shut down and later reopened. Once the hot ovens are shut off, the bricks in those ovens would quickly deteriorate. 137 jobs would immediately be lost.
Erie News Now asked Erie Attorney John Carlson about this situation. What if one judge rules one way and the other judge rules the other? He says continued appeals will most likely come into play.
“One of the legal requirements to grant injunctive relief is a significant likelihood of success on appeal. The question becomes, is there a significant likelihood of success on appeal on behalf of Erie Coke? That has to be looked at at the hearing before Judge Brabender,” Carlson said.