Thursday, April 28, 2011

W.Va. environmental officials at odds over water-conductivity standards for mountaintop mines

West Virginia environmental regulators are at odds over how to implement water conductivity standards to limit pollution from mountaintop-removal coal mining. "The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is appealing in court a decision by the state's Environmental Quality Board ordering the agency to modify its permit for a Patriot Mining Company Inc. strip mining project in Monongalia County," Manuel Quinones of Environment and Energy News reports. "In issuing its decision, the board sided, at least in part, with environmentalists who urged permit modifications, including a numeric standard for conductivity in nearby waterways."

The controversy comes as the White House is reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency's interim conductivity standard. The West Virginia board did not grant environmentalists' request to establish a conductivity standard, but told state regulators to include a specific standard in a revised permit for the Patriot mine. "This particular permit had no limits on conductivity, sulfates, really not much of anything," Petra Wood, a Sierra Club member involved in appealing the permit, told Quinones. You can read our report about the federal conductivity standard here. "DEP believes the board overstepped its legal bounds by mandating a conductivity standard," Quinones writes. (Read more, Subscription required)

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