EPA Hears the Voices of Coal Loud & Clear

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing this past Tuesday on the Spruce #1 mine permit, first issued in 2007, in apparent preparation to veto the permit. The hearing was held at the Charleston Civic Center and drew approximately 900 people with nearly 100 making comments.

It is estimated that the crowd was approximately 80 percent pro-permit and 20 percent anti-permit. The same proportions were seen among those making comments.

Prior to the event the Friends of Coal and FACES co-hosted a rally to support the permit and the Appalachian coal mining industry.

The rally was attended by almost 300 people and guests included Governor Joe Manchin, Congressman Nick Rahall, President of the State Senate and Lieutenant Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Speaker of the House of Delegates Rick Thompson, the majority leaders from both houses and several State Senators and Delegates, 1st District Congressional Candidate Mike Oliverio, 3rd District Congressional Candidate Elliot “Spike” Maynard, representatives of the office of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett, representatives from the Ohio Coal Association and the Virginia Mining Association, elected officials from several West Virginia and Kentucky counties, representatives of numerous chambers of commerce and trade associations throughout the West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland, numerous miners and their families, members of the Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) and others.

The event drew news media from around the state, the nation and the world, including a television crew from ZDF or German television.  Prior to the event, the Friends of Coal and FACES successfully placed earned and paid media mentions in radio, television and print throughout the region, including a 30-minute interview with WV Coal Association President Bill Raney, members of CAP and others on the WOWK-TV show “Decision Makers.”

We believe the event was a true success and provided an excellent show of support for the industry in West Virginia and across Appalachia.

WV DEP Releases Proposed Water Quality Standards Revisions

Earlier this week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) released its proposed revisions to the state’s water quality standards rule, 47 CSR 2.  The revisions include a proposal to establish a 500 TDS limit for drinking water sources (as a human health criterion), changes to the state’s narrative criteria that add certain water withdrawal situations and excessive algae blooms as “conditions not allowable”, changes to the nutrient criteria and revisions to the iron standards for classified trout waters.  The revisions to the rule have not started the official rulemaking process- that will begin next week with their submission to the WVDEP Advisory Council.  A 45-day public comment period will follow.  The revisions will be reviewed by the Legislature during the 2011 Regular Session and will ultimately have to be reviewed and approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  For a copy of the proposed revisions contact jbostic@wvcoal.com

EPA Names Science Advisory Board

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named the members of its Advisory Panel on the ecological effects of coal mining in Appalachia.  Referred to as the Science Advisory Board (SAB), the panel will assist EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) in preparing a scientific assessment of the ecological impacts related to mountaintop mining and valley-fill operations.  The evaluation is tied to EPA’s continuing regulatory focus on coal mining in Central Appalachia such as the April 1, 2010 “guidance” on application of the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act to mining permit applications.  More information on the SAB panel, including a list of members can be found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/SABPRODUCT.NSF/81e39f4c09954fcb85256ead006be86e/acd3a1af5c7138e785257625006c891e!OpenDocument

For additional information contact jbostic@wvcoal.com

Two Dinsmore Attorneys Named to Board

Thomas Rubenstein and Christopher Power, partners with Dinsmore & Shohl, were recently selected to serve as Trustees at Large for the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation (EMLF).  Both attorneys will serve a first-year term from 2010 to 2011 on the Board of Trustees.

Thomas Rubenstein is the managing partner of the firm's Morgantown, West Virginia office.  He has more than 25 years of experience as a coal lawyer with both substantial in-house and private practice experience representing public and private operating and land holding companies.  Rubenstein focuses on legal and business matters pertaining to the coal industry, including transactions, mergers and acquisitions, coal sales, mine safety and health, and lease, sublease, operating and contract mining agreements.

Christopher Power is a partner in the firm's Charleston, West Virginia office.  He is a member of the Natural Resources and Environmental Practice Groups.  Power's practice encompasses civil and administrative litigation related to the energy industry, with a particular emphasis on natural resources extraction and related operations.

CONSOL Hosts Meeting

CONSOL Energy will be the main corporate sponsor of the joint meeting of the Office of Surface Mining's Reclamation and Enforcement Agency, the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), American Society of Mining and Reclamation (ASMR) and the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation to be held at the Greentree Radisson Hotel June 6 - 10.       

Please review and contact Jane Evans if you or others in your group would like to register for the entire conference, portions, or any of the various activities and special events. As the main corporate sponsor, we are entitled to four complimentary full registrations. Additional full or partial registrations can be purchased at the discounted conference rates: http://www.pghminingreclamationconf.com/registration.html 

Following are pertinent links to the conference Website, and which illustrate the level of CONSOL participation as presenters, speakers and hosts for various site tours and activities.