In the wake of last week’s federal appeals court ruling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could be poised to begin issuing dozens of new mountaintop removal mining permits.
At least three dozen Clean Water Act permits for coal companies are currently pending at the Corps’ district office in Huntington, an agency spokesman told me this afternoon.
With a very quick check, I was only able to find detailed records on two dozen of those permits. But counting only those, coal operators are proposing to bury nearly 65 miles of Southern West Virginia streams with valley fills, stream crossings and sediment ponds, according to Corps permit documents and public notices.
Of course, that number is far from official and is only a preliminary check of the few records that the Corps makes readily available to the public about its mountaintop removal permit process. Lawyers for citizen groups and the Corps have wrangled repeatedly overÂ whether the agency gives adequate public notice and makes sufficient information available about these permits.
In the last two weeks ago, Corps officials issued public notices for three large surface mines in Boone and Mingo counties.Â Those three operations alone would involve 18 valley fills that would bury nearly nine miles of streams.