May 9, 2011

Federal Oversight of Coal Mining

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) has found a number of problems with a West Virginia state permit permit issued to Coal Valley LLC for extracting and marketing waste coal left in an old Consol Energy Inc. underground mine near Enterprise in north-central West Virginia.

Roger Calhoun, director of OSM's Charleston, W.Va., field office, wrote in a letter to the state that state regulators failed to work with the mining company to create an effective water control and runoff plan. There was a spill last month of blackwater -- pollution from a plant that washes soil and rock off coal -- at the mine site last month.
State regulators said the blackwater appears to have flowed from a treatment pond into a creek. Calhoun, in an interview, said he believes permit deficiencies contributed to the spill. "The state didn't order the operation to cease," he said. "It still has no valid plan to control water. The operator needs a better plan, the state needs to approve it."

West Virginia claims this is a violation of state's rights. 

Click here (pdf) to read the OSM letter.
Click here (pdf) to read the Virginia attorney general's letter.

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