I personally am not a fan of mountaintop removal techniques. But I do understand the need for the coal industry to find cheaper and safer ways to extract coal. It is our life line in Eastern Kentucky. Today Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Miller expressed his views on mountaintop removal. He may need to do a little research before he commits to an issue that is SORELY misrepresented. While cities like Hazard Kentucky have built a new future on reclaimed strip sites. Elk has flourished in Eastern Kentucky BECAUSE of strip mining. There is also horror stories associated with the TERM mountaintop removal. The following are simply a list OF FACTS from www.coaleducation.org. I love the natural beauty of our mountains and I certainly know what can happen as a result of coal operators running a-muck. I suggest you find a State or Federal mine inspector and ask a few questions about what happens when extreme violations are discovered. It is getting tougher for the outlaw coal operator to exist.
Chronological overview of mountaintop mining. We will begin with a chronological overview of various events related to mountaintop mining.
Bill K. Caylor
Vice President & General Counsel, Kentucky Coal Association
August 3, 1977. Moutaintop mining existed in Kentucky. Where have all these activists been? This mining method isn’t new. The use of valley fills isn’t new. The only thing new is this attack on a method of mining that’s been practiced for well over 20 years.
May 29, 1991. DSMRE issued a memorandum that stated that "fish and wildlife" is an acceptable postmining land use ("pmlu") for mountaintop removal operations. This came after the urging of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
July 15, 1994. House Bill 633, Kentucky’s new law on the issuance of water quality certification takes effect. This new law clarifies that for fills greater than 480 acres, a 401 water quality certification (required by the U. S. Corps of Engineers for fill construction) would be issued only with stream mitigation on a one-to-one ratio. It also provided that no water quality certification would be needed for a road crossing on the permitted area impacting less than 200 linear feet of water. This legislation was a compromise reached between the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet (then headed by environmental activist Philip Shepherd), environmental activist Tom Fitzgerald, and representatives from the coal industry. This legislation specifically did not allow the purchasing of mitigation, as does West Virginia’s law.
December 12, 1995. On this date a new regulation was enacted requiring, among other things, supplemental reclamation bonds for mountaintop mining operations to insure proper reclamation. This action was the result of a compromise reached by a special study group comprised of the KY DSMRE, OSM, environmental activist Tom Fitzgerald and representatives from the coal industry.
March 1998. West Virginia adopts the Kentucky mitigation legislation, except it continues to allow the purchasing of mitigation. This action precipitates objections from the U. S. EPA Region III and \from environmental activisists.
July 16, 1998. Environmental extremists sue in West Virginia to stop mountaintop mining and accompanying fills.
August 13, 1998. The federal Office of Surface Mining’s ("OSM") Lexington Field Office Director, Bill Kovacic, wrote the Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement ("KY DSMRE")asking for legal rationale for "fish and wildlife" habitat as a valid post mining land use for mountaintop removal operations. The letter said that only options are: industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential or public facility (including recreational facilities).
September 8, 1998. KY DSMRE Commissioner Carl Campbell agreed that the "fish and wildlife" habitat was not a valid post mining land use for mountaintop removal operations and that it would not be allowed on future issued permits. Issued permits will not be affected. The KY DSMRE is currently looking into whether "forest land" is an acceptable post mining land use habitat for mountaintop mining.
September 23, 1998. OSM and KY DSMRE entered into a Performance Agreement for a Special Oversight Study of Approximate Original Contour, Post-Mining Land Use and Excess Spoil Disposal. This study of Kentucky mountaintop removal operations is expected to be completed by December 1998.
October 9, 1998. KY DSMRE Commissioner Carl Campbell reiterates his intent to comply with the law and continue to issue mountaintop removal permits. In an interesting note, Commissioner Campbell characterized several differences between Kentucky and West Virginia:
The geology is different---Kentucky has only around 3 seams available for development versus several more seams in West Virginia;
The ownership of the land in Kentucky makes it harder to parcel together large tracks needed for mountaintop mining operations; and,
There are few true mountaintop mining operations in Kentucky. Most operations are a combination of area, contour, mining points, etc., which complicate this issue in Kentucky.
October 21, 1998. The KY DSMRE writes to OSM and asks if Kentucky can submit a program amendment "which will allow silviculture or woodland management and fish & wildlife habitat as options in mountain top removal operations."