Coal Tattoo

Manchin appoints Hunter to W.Va. Surface Mine Board

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hunter.jpgLast week, I reported on Gov. Joe Manchin’s appointment of a former coal industry lobbyist to fill a seat on West Virginia’s Surface Mine Board reserved for someone who “represents the general public interest.”

At the time, Manchin had not yet filled another important vacancy on this supposedly “multi-interest” board — the one set aside for someone with “significant experience in the advocacy of environmental protection.”

That changed  late last week, when the governor named former state Sen. Jon Blair Hunter to fill the board vacancy created by the resignation of longtime Chairman Tom Michael.

Hunter, a Democrat, served three terms from Monongalia County and was considered a solid pro-environment vote. As Don Garvin, lead lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council, recounted here, Hunter dared to take on the coal lobby by sponsoring legislation that would ban mountaintop removal coal mining. And during the 2008 session, Hunter engineered the unthinkable: A hearing before a West Virginia legislative committee that actually talked about the damaging environmental impacts of mountaintop removal.