To: Austin Caperton, Cabinet Secretary, WV Dept. of Environmental Protection and Harold Ward, Mining and Reclamation Division Director
Terminate a 2,000-acre mountaintop removal permit
Dear Mr. Caperton,
As you are aware, the issue of Alpha subsidiary Republic Energy’s Eagle #2 permit, S302805, has been referred back to the WVDEP from OSMRE for supplemental information. This is your opportunity to correct the previous WVDEP administration’s mistake of retroactively extending a not-started permit. I urge you to find permit S302805 terminated, in accordance with the clear and unambiguous language of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). This decision would comply with state and federal law and save both state and federal agencies the time and expense of defending a company that your own agency has accused of fraud. This is an opportunity for you to begin repairing the WVDEP’s reputation as an agency that is lax in enforcing the laws and regulations intended to protect the citizens of West Virginia, a reputation recently reinforced by the OSMRE’s report finding deficiencies in WVDEP’s implementation of its program. In addition, you would be protecting the community from the public health threat of a 2,000-acre mountaintop removal site.
Why is this important?
Mountaintop removal coal mining is linked to several public health impacts, including elevated rates of cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and other deadly illnesses. A huge 2,000-acre mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, issued in 2008, should have terminated in 2011 in accordance with federal and state law for not starting within three years. Instead, the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) retroactively extended the permit. Now, after years of litigation by Coal River Mountain Watch, the new Cabinet Secretary of the WVDEP has the permit back on his desk with the opportunity to correct his predecessor's mistakes and declare the Eagle #2 permit terminated.