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CONSOL Energy: 'Responsible business practices can coexist with energy production'

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Tailing much controversy in the media for incidents in the past few weeks, CONSOL Energy has released its 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Overall, the company said it has broadly improved corporate responsibility in 2012, including being the first domestic coal or gas producer to develop a corporate responsibility report in 2011. The company's latest report addresses what the company has done to meet key performance indicators outlined in the 2011 report.

The report comes after a number of relatively high-profile safety incidents involving CONSOL in the past few months.

In December, the company was front and center in mining news when a slurry impoundment collapsed, killing a bulldozer operator who was submerged in the pond. On Feb. 12, a CONSOL coal miner died at the underground Loveridge #22 mine in West Virginia. Earlier this month, a coal mine caught fire and billowed smoke for days while operators attempted to smother the fire.

The company reported that in general, the company has moved forward in establishing best practices on community, environmental and safety fronts.

"In 2012, we continued to demonstrate that responsible business practices can coexist with energy production to deliver the fuel that drives economic growth and supports our quality of life, and that is reflected in this year's report," said J. Brett Harvey, chairman and CEO of CONSOL Energy.

This year, the report was expanded from its initial purposes.

"CONSOL Energy broadened the 2012 report to include additional Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) principles and reported against additional Key Performance Metrics to continue our performance improvement," said Katharine Fredriksen, CONSOL Energy's senior vice president of environmental strategy and regulatory affairs. "Looking forward, our short term strategic priorities are to continue to build on the ‘Absolute ZERO' program and to fully integrate the ZERO Accident culture into CONSOL Energy and its contractors. We also expect to further improve compliance through setting ambitious targets and metrics suitable for our business and in line with our core values."

In 2012, CONSOL said it's overall safety record in both coal and gas was its "best safety year on record" including a drop in coal incident rates. At one mine the company highlighted, over one million consecutive hours was put in without a single lost time incident.

"While these improvements are a positive step forward, we recognize that we are not at zero accidents, and there is much more work to be done in achieving the standard set forth by our Absolute ZERO safety culture," Harvey wrote in an opening letter to the report.

Meanwhile, the company said 2012 was one of the best environmental compliance years on record with a company-wide improvement of 30 percent.

"We attribute that to the increased awareness and focus placed on compliance, through increased environmental training for employees and contractors, the addition of an environmental performance metric to our short term incentive compensation program for all employees, the implementation of a spill policy to track any spills, regardless of whether the volume required reporting to federal or state agencies," a release from the company states.

Additionally, the company highlighted its $6 million in community investment as evidence of its support of the community.