Army Corps of Engineers Continues to Challenge Coal Mining in Six States

Jun 17, 2010, 16:02 ET from FACES of Coal

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today it has suspended the use of Nationwide Permit 21 (NWP 21) in the Appalachian Region of six states. NWP 21 is used to authorize discharges of dredged or fill material into water for surface coal mining activities. The suspension is effective immediately and applies to the Appalachian Region of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. NWP 21 permits continue to be available for coal mining operations in other regions of the country.

"Appalachian coal mining operators made the transition from NWP 21 Permits to Individual Permits in response to the June 2009 Memorandum of Understanding between the Corp and other federal government agencies, but have encountered one obstacle after another that have prevented these operations from securing the permits necessary to sustain business and the jobs of Appalachian workers," said Bryan Brown, state coordinator for the FACES of Coal. "This is just one more way for the current administration to say 'No' to the workers of Appalachia and put more burdens on job creation in a troubling economic time."

The suspension in these states will remain in effect until the Corps takes further action on NWP 21 or until NWP 21 expires on March 18, 2012. While the suspension is in effect, individual surface coal mining projects that involve discharges of dredged or fill material into water will have to obtain Department of the Army authorization under The Clean Water Act, through the Individual Permit process.

Brown continued, "This decision hinders economic growth and stability, does little to clarify an already unclear permitting process and makes coal, our greatest natural resource, more difficult to mine effectively. It's disappointing."

The Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security (FACES of Coal) is an alliance of more than 60,000 people from all walks of life who are joining forces to educate lawmakers and the general public about the importance of coal and coal mining to our local and national economies and to our nation's energy security. In addition to keeping tens of thousands of people employed in good-paying jobs, coal is the lifeblood of our domestic energy supply, generating nearly half the electricity consumed in the United States today.