Eight years after a federal judge prevented Arch Coal Inc., one of the biggest and most active players on the West Virginia coal mining scene, from obtaining a permit to mine 3,113 acres near Blair, WV in Logan County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit instead. Though slightly smaller in size at 2,278 acres, the “dredge-and-fill” permit nevertheless allows Arch’s Spruce No. 1 Mine to bury nearly seven miles of streams and is the largest permit ever issued in the history of mountaintop-removal mining in West Virginia.
This is a devastating blow for the folks in Logan County — and all over West Virginia, really. What’s even more devastating are the loopholes and provisions that allow streams to be buried and ecosystems to be destroyed by a “Clean Water Act” permit. Yesterday, three fast-acting environmental groups represented by Joe Lovett, a straight-shooting environmental lawyer who’s been following this case from the start, filed papers to secure a temporary restraining order to block the operation from moving forward. So far, the judge hasn’t responded.
Sadly, the local papers seem to be the only ones covering this historic and potentially catastrophic act of environmental terrorism.