Coal Tattoo

We’ve written before about the efforts of the Ansted Historic Preservation Council and the Sierra Club to clean up water pollution problems at CONSOL Energy subsidiary Powellton Coal Co.’s Bridge Fork strip mine site in Fayette County, W.Va. (See previous posts here, here and here).

Now, there is a proposed settlement that was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Charleston that promises some interesting changes — not only at the mine site, but for other serious water pollution challenges in that area.

I’ve posted a copy of the proposed consent decree (it still needs approval from U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver and the Department of Justice) here.

Under the deal, Powellton Coal has agreed to pay nearly $135,000 in civil penalties for past water pollution violations. And, the company has come up with an “action plan” to end aluminum water pollution violations at the operation.

But the fascinating thing here is that Powellton has also agreed to spend $1.2 million on a “supplemental environmental project” that will create a “Land Use and Sustainable Development Clinic” at the West Virginia University College of Law.

The clinic will allow WVU law students and faculty to provide the community with legal resources directed to the following goals:

— To protect land essential to watershed protection through conservation/riparian easements or other land and water protection strategies.

— To draft land use plans and ordinances, where needed and possible to protect ground and surface water quality and quantity.

— To solve residential wastewater issues, such as “straight piping” (pipes that carry human waste from residence or business without treatment directly to a stream) to protect both ground and surface water.

The College of Law is going to provide another $943,000 for the clinic, making its total four-year budget $2.6 million.  Also, Powellton will pay stipulated penalty amounts for any future violations, and those funds will also go toward the law clinic.