Update: The Gazette’s Dr. Paul Nyden has a full story on this development in today’s paper. It’s online here.
This just in: The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has responded to the petition filed in early June seeking to protect Blair Mountain by having the area declared “unsuitable for mining” under the strip-mining law.
WVDEP’s answer to the petition filed by the Sierra Club, along with labor and historic preservation groups?
The petition is “frivolous”.
That’s right, in this three-page letter to Derek Teaney at the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, from Tom Clarke, director of the WVDEP Division of Mining and Reclamation.
Tom’s writes that a “significant portion” of the area has already been mined or was part of previous petitions for lands unsuitable declarations. In addition, the WVDEP letter adds:
A significant portion of the lands identified in your petition has been affected in the past and continued to be affected by oil and gas and logging operations. These activities have great potential to adversely affect the historic integrity of the lands you have identified. A declaration that the lands you have identified are unsuitable for mining would not effectively protect the historic integrity of these lands because it would have no effect on oil and gas and logging operations.
Tom Clarke’s letter concludes:
Because I am rejecting your petition as frivolous, no other findings are being made with respect to it.
So, as far as WVDEP is concerned … that’s the end of the story.