Patriot Coal to begin phasing out large scale surface mining
November 15, 2012 ·
One of the largest surface coal mine operators in the region has agreed to stop using the controversial method of mountain top removal mining. Patriot Coal, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, struck a deal in federal court this afternoon with several environmental based groups.
In a previous court case, several environmental groups took Patriot
Coal to court. The Sierra Club, Ohio
Valley Environmental Coalition, and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, represented
by attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates wanted Patriot to install
“expensive pollution controls at several mines in West Virginia.”
According to a news release from the environmental groups, Patriot has
agreed to “move away from, and ultimately cease, mountaintop removal and all
other forms of large-scale surface mining in Appalachia. In return,
Patriot will be granted additional time to install selenium treatment at
several of its mines.”
The agreement gives Patriot an additional year to comply with selenium
treatment requirements at 42 mines and facilities and an additional year and 3
months for the Hobet mine.
The release also says that the coal company will withdraw two valley
fill permit applications. These section Clean Water Act 404 permits allow
companies to dump the waste from mountaintop removal mines into valleys,
The release quotes the company to say, “We believe the proposed
settlement will result in a reduction of our environmental footprint.” It says
Patriot plans to focus on underground and SMALL scale surface mining.
The agreement also states that Patriot will donate
$500,000 to a West Virginia non-profit
organization, not yet identified.