A hearing wrapped up Thursday to determine if Erie Coke can remain open after numerous air pollution violations.

The hearing was convened after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) denied the renewal of Erie Coke's operating permit.   It was conducted by the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board with Judge Steven Beckman presiding. 

No closing arguments were made after testimony ended Thursday afternoon.  Instead, attorneys from both sides will submit briefs to Judge Beckman for his review. Those briefs must be submitted on or before August 7. Beckman said he will make his decision as soon as possible after receiving the briefs.

 Eric Gustafson, the DEP's regional air quality program manager who denied the renewal of the operating permit, testified Thursday, describing a number of meetings and communications between his office and Erie Coke about the company's efforts to comply with its permit.

He said the permit expired in February 2019, but the DEP was hoping to receive a compliance plan from Erie Coke even after the deadline expired. However, pollution violations continued at the plant into June.

Gustafson said he eventually realized "there was no end in sight" to receive that plan, so he denied the renewal of the permit on July 1.

Under cross-examination, Erie Coke attorney Paul Stockman pressed Gustafson about why he did not give Erie Coke's new management team a fair opportunity to correct the violations. Those managers started their jobs only a few months ago.

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