|West Virginia Coal Mining Methods|
Coal continues to play an important role in supplying the energy needs of the United States and, more than any other domestic fuel resource, helps to assure this country’s energy independence by providing a reliable, domestic source for electricity generation and industrial consumption of energy. Coal is America’s most abundant fuel resource and it is provided to the market by a highly-trained and specialized workforce. Coal mining in the United States is also heavily regulated by mature environmental regulatory programs, including a specific federal statute directed specifically at coal mining.
West Virginia is the nation’s second largest coal producing state. Coal mining operations in West Virginia produced over 161 million tons of coal last year. West Virginia coal is used extensively by domestic utility companies to produce electricity. Metallurgical coal mined in West Virginia represents some of the highest quality coal found anywhere in the world, and both domestic and international steel companies rely on this coal to produce coke for use in the iron making process.
Coal extraction in West Virginia is accomplished generally by underground or surface mining. Both methods of coal extraction require the placement of fill structures, commonly referred to as “valley fills”, acknowledging the steeply-sloped terrain that exists in West Virginia, within CWA section 404 jurisdictional waters. Construction of these valley fills necessitates section 404 authorization from the Corps of Engineers (Corps).