FRIEDENS, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – A new coal mine that President Donald Trump mentioned in announcing plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord has officially opened in Pennsylvania.
The Acosta Mine will supply coal used in making steel and is expected to generate up to 100 full-time jobs. It’s located in Friedens, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Corsa Coal Corp. says it decided in August to open the mine after a steel industry boom drove up prices for metallurgical coal. Pennsylvania awarded a $3 million grant for the project.
The opening of the new mine was a cause for celebration in a coal industry beaten down by closures and massive layoffs.
“Today marks a great turnaround for our industry and our company,” George Dethlefsen, with Corsa Coal, said.
Even President Trump, who brought national attention to the new mine, sent his well wishes by video.
“The grand opening of the Acosta Coal Mine signals a new chapter in America’s long, proud coal mining tradition,” Trump said.
But the mine has also become a focal point of controversy — and voices of dissent from demonstrators tried to disrupt the ceremony, calling the mine a threat to the air and water of those who live nearby.
“All these people are in well water, and the town water’s not gonna come out here,” Ashley Funk, of the Mountain Watershed Association, said. “If this mine and there’s another mine just over here, not even a mile away, and if that disturbs their water, what are they going to do?”
But in his message, the president cited the new mine as reason to roll back environmental relations and justification to exit the international climate agreement.
“We have withdrawn the United States from the horrendous Paris Climate Accord, something that would have put our country back decades and decades. We would have never allowed ourselves to be great again,” he said.
Corsa’s chief executive says Trump has made the entire mining industry more optimistic.
The coal mine is a bright spot for Somerset County and some believe it could bring an economic boost to the area, but environmentalists say one new mine isn’t going to affect the overall decline of the coal industry.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)