Piling On; How the Effort to Stop Surface Coal Mining Subverts the Rule of Law


By all appearances, organized efforts to put an end to surface coal mining, especially in West Virginia, have been moving at warp speed since the new Administration took office. Indeed, it seems hardly coincidental that the first in a series of threatening communications from EPA’s Region III to the Corps of Engineers' Huntington District office, regarding new scrutiny to be given to the permitting of coal-related projects, was dated January 20, 2009, the day that President Obama was sworn in. That letter for the first time raised a concern about a shift in benthics (insect) population below valley fills as possibly constituting a violation of State water quality standards. It has been followed by what seems to be a methodical, steady release of letters, memos, complaints and petitions from or to EPA, other agencies, and outside groups that oppose surface mining, all aimed at tightening the noose on the surface coal mine industry in our State.

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