WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Office of Surface Mining announced Monday evening it will examine five aspects of West Virginia’s regulation of surface mining.

The decision announced in a news release follows a petition filed earlier this year by nearly 20 advocacy groups which said the state Department of Environmental Protection isn’t doing its job and is ignoring federal law.

(Read OSM release here)

The federal agency said it will look at five of the groups’ complaints including flooding impacts, alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, water pollution from selenium and the handling of soil.

“The analysis we shared with the petitioners today represents the next step in a process
prescribed by the regulations that implement SMCRA,” said OSM Director Joe Pizarchik in the news release. “OSM will conduct its evaluations in a fair, transparent manner.”

The environmental, civic and religious groups originally asked that 19 areas be looked at and it requested OSM seize control of the DEP program.


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  • Aaron

    If it's a standard audit, that's one thing. If however it's the Administration taking another step in fulfilling his promise to bankrupt the coal industry, it's nothing more than another example of abuse of power.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Some of us are surprised to learn that surface mining is regulated.

  • Jeff

    It's about time! The WVDEP has spent more time fighting against the environment than for it. They're useless except as a lobbying group for the extraction industry.

  • Coalwiz

    OSM has always had oversight over the WVDEP. This is just part of the normal review process they should be doing.

    The WVDEP is ran well and is by far the best regulatory group to work with in the minefields. And that should not be interpreted to be that they are lenient. They just correctly enforce the law better than the others and rarely do they have an agenda. They regulate the right way.

    • The bookman

      Actually Coalwiz this is in direct response to a petition filed with OSM lodging 19 accusations against the WVDEP. 14 of the 19 were determined without merit and the remaining 5 are being evaluated. I would say this isn't normal review, but a response to the petitioners claims of poor performance which are initially unfounded. Follow the link in the story to read a deeper backstory but suffice it to say it is the same groups undermining industry for the sake of extreme environmentalism over progress.

      • Hop'sHip

        THE bookman: How do you define extreme environmentalism and what do you consider progres? MTR is progress? This is what Forbes magazine had to say several years ago when they ranked states on environmental and energy policy where West Virginia predictably came in last.

        "So who’s at the bottom? Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and, at No. 50, West Virginia. All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way."

        And we have.

        • The bookman

          Extreme Environmentalist: one who petitions an agency of the federal government with 19 citations of abuse and has 14 of them dismissed without cause. If you can't get an Obama backed agency to give you some juice against surface mining, you must be extreme.

          Progress: business and government getting along for a common good.


          Why are you so upset?

      • Jeff

        Blowing up mountains for a little bit of coal is not anything anyone with a half a brain would call progress

      • Coalwiz

        Bookman......I don't care how you frame the point of what caused this to happen. My point is that OSM has always had oversight authority over the WVDEP. They do it all the time. This time they just responded to a public petition. I also don't care how many points are being reviewed and how many were thrown out. I do recognize that some groups are always out to harm the industry by whatever means they can use and this "petition" is another form of attack.

        What I do care about is the point that I tried to make that the WVDEP is the best regulatory agency to work with because they are just as they enforce the law and they do their best to interpret the law correctly. The other groups have a tendency to follow the lead out of the White House, and while that may be their boss....it isn't necessarily the law.

  • john

    the statement by the Fed, states OSM will conduct its evaluations in a fair transparent manner. If anyone believes that statement, id like to see what you been sniffing. Im sure the OSM is just as corupt as MSHA. People in the minng buisness all know that MSHA has become the most corupt agency since obama has taken over. Inspector have been guided by there supervisors who get direct input from Arlington to do what ever they can to ticket the mines out of buisness, one way or another! OSM will follow suit- just sit back and watch!

    • Rodney Hytonen

      You think they're too STRICT?
      The WV DEP???
      Corrupt and heavily captured, even by the EPA's standards.

      • robert thomas

        I read somewhere that mushrooms are chock full of selenium and that particular element helps the body to fight of cancer.

        somebody somewhere is slinging a bunch of bull.

  • The bookman

    Note that the petition filed contained 19 issues requesting attention and the OSM rejected 14 of them...if the DEP is found to be out if compliance then they need to remedy it ASAP. But it sounds like a fishing expedition by the same folks at Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation!


    • Magic Mike

      What do you expect from Obama and the EPA. The whole goal is to shut down the coal mines. Think about that when you are voting in 2014.

      • wvrefugee

        Good!!! The sooner the better! #blindwv

        • Magic Mike

          Tell you what when those people are out of jobs and homeless let them live with you.