Coal Tattoo

The Goals Coal silo heads back to Supreme Court


Just a quick note to let folks know — the Goals Coal silo case is headed to the Supreme Court tomorrow. The photo above is of one coal silo Massey Energy built near Marsh Fork Elementary School near Sundial, in Raleigh County, W.Va. The company wants to build a second silo, but has been blocked in that effort for nearly five years now.

The issue is whether the maps or markers on the ground are the real boundaries of coal-mine permit applications. Citizen groups argue it’s the maps; DEP argues it’s the markers.

You can read the legal briefs here, and watch online here. And catch up on the story with some background here, here and here.

Those who have followed this story know that the Gazette played a role in uncovering the fact that Massey’s permit maps showed the silos were being built outside the original permit area, an inconvenient fact that would block the company from being able to build the silos, under a buffer zone rule intended to protect schools and other public buildings.

Coal River Mountain Watch lawyers are appealing part of a ruling by Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom.

Bloom ruled against DEP in part of the case, upholding a state Surface Mine Board decision that the agency was wrong to deny Goals Coal’s application for the silo permit.  As I described it at the time:

Bloom ruled against the DEP, saying the agency was wrong to conclude the new silo was a new mining operation and therefore not exempt from a 300-foot buffer zone around schools and other public buildings. The DEP had used that rationale to block the Goals silo permit.

Bloom also ruled against Coal River Mountain Watch, saying that mine permit boundaries are governed by both on-the-ground markers and outlines shown on company maps.

Interestingly, DEP did not appeal the portion of Bloom’s ruling that went against the agency. But, DEP did urge the Supreme Court not to hear Coal River Mountain Watch’s appeal.