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PHILADELPHIA - Four federal agencies which oversee mountaintop mining, and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection, are seeking public comment as they begin a two-year environmental impact study of mountaintop mining.
The federal agencies -- the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Office of Surface Mining, and the Fish and Wildlife Service -- have invited West Virginia citizens, businesses, universities and community groups to comment on issues and concerns they want included in the study. The State of West Virginia has joined this effort, and other Appalachian states will be invited to participate.
The study will review government policies in order to minimize adverse environmental impacts from mountaintop mines. Among the topics to be considered are cumulative environmental impacts of mountaintop mining; the viability of reclaimed streams compared to natural waters; the impact that filled valleys have on aquatic life, wildlife and nearby residents; biological and habitat analyses that should be done before mining begins; ways to avoid and minimize stream filling; and the effectiveness of mitigation and reclamation.
Three public scoping meetings are scheduled in West Virginia: at 6:30 p.m. February 23 at the Nicholas County Veteran’s Memorial Park in Summersville; from 2-4 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. February 24 in the rotunda of Riggleman Hall, University of Charleston; and at 6:30 p.m. February 25 at the Chief Logan State Park. Other public meetings also may be scheduled in West Virginia and other coalfield states in the future.
Written comments may be sent until March 31 to: William Hoffman, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 3ES30, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103-2029. Hoffman’s telephone is (215) 814-2995. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests to speak at public meetings also should be sent to Hoffman.