Here’s a stellar example of your tax dollars at work: Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published an Anna Karenina-sized draft study of a proposal by Arch Coal to strip mine 3,100 acres of West Virginia. The strip mine would be the largest ever in the state, and the company has been seeking a permit since 1997. The environmental impact study, a necessary step on the way to approval, provided an exhaustive discussion of the potential economic benefits of the mine to Boone County. Trouble is, the strip mine is planned for Logan County; it even says so on the cover of the study. Oops. The Corps blamed the error on Michael Baker, Jr., the consulting firm it hired, which claimed it could “lawsuit-proof” the study; the Corps also contends that the blooper does not cast doubt on the credibility of the rest of the report. Environmentalists aren’t buying it: “Unfortunately, this is the kind of carelessness we’ve come to expect from the Corps,” said Nathan Fetty of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
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