A Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board judge will be meeting tomorrow with representatives of Erie Coke and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  The judge will be presiding over a settlement conference between the two parties concerning the denial of Erie Coke's operating permit.

 

According to a legal document released by the Environmental Hearing Board, the judge ordered the settlement conference to be held tomorrow morning at the board's offices in downtown Erie.

 

The order was issued by Judge Steven Beckman, the same judge that presided over a hearing that spanned several days last month. The hearing came about after the DEP, on July 1, denied Erie Coke's request to renew its operating permit.  The DEP also filed for an injunction in Erie County Court to close down the plant after numerous air pollution violations.
    

Erie Coke is asking the hearing board judge to allow the plant to stay open while it appeals the denial of the operating permit. Judge Beckman has not yet made a decision in the case.  However, according to a document filed today by the DEP, Erie Coke submitted a settlement counteroffer on August 15. The DEP indicated that it wanted to meet with Erie Coke officials to discuss the counteroffer,
   

Apparently, Judge Beckman feels he can be of assistance in helping both sides reach a resolution.
The DEP, in the document filed today, said it would not engage in settlement discussions if the settlement conditions are not consistent with provisions of the Clean Air Act.

 

137 people work at the Erie Coke plant.  CEO Paul Saffrin says the plant will close if the judge rules against his company.