CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection said the U.S. Office of Surface Mining’s review of five aspects of surface mining regulations in West Virginia is nothing unusual.

“This is what OSM does,” said Secretary Randy Huffman.  “They have a list of issues that they go over with us every year and they’ll pick off of that list five or six significant items to review.”

On Monday, officials with OSM announced the review, in the New Year, will include a focus on the DEP’s enforcement of regulations for the handling of soil, alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, flooding impacts and water pollution from selenium among others.

“This is business as usual.  What OSM is going to do with these five items is the same thing OSM’s been doing with the state and federal relationship and partnership for the past 30 years,” said Huffman.

Earlier this year, almost 20 environmental, civic and religious groups had petitioned the Office of Surface Mining asking that 19 total areas within DEP be reviewed and that officials with OSM consider seizing control of the DEP program because of alleged ineffectiveness.

The OSM will not take that step now.

“The image that was created by saying there were 19 areas and that the federal agency needed to take over the program was, certainly, an exaggeration,” said Huffman on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“That sky’s not falling.”

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  • Herb Underwood

    Huffman's poor attempt to put a face on the EPA's decision to look at 5 serious mine health and safety allegations is laughable if it were not so serious.
    Huffman and WVDEP have carried water for the coal companies for years. He should be held accountable for the incalculable damage to the air, water, mountains that have practically destroyed Southern West Virginia, including the deaths of many innocent of coal miners and members of their families.

    Thank God for the numerous nonprofit environmental organizations who have brought these concerns to EPA.

    • Jeff

      You're spot on, Herb. Huffman is and has been a corrupt joke along with the WVDEP. He's a traitor to the state and the title he holds.

      How is it that agencies that are suppose to serve the public do the exact opposite? The PSC answers to private utilities while the WVDEP answers to coal companies. It's like WV is bizarro world.

    • Scott

      I've lived in Southern WV my entire life I'm 46.I've got a lot of Uncles,Aunts,and numerous cousins of which none would agree with you.The truth is you could do a poll and the best you could get is 1 out 10 to agree with you.Why you think you all have to some way save us blows my mind.So sick and tried of listening to bunch of people who neither live or work here telling us how we should live.

      • Herb Underwood

        For your information, Scott, I was born, raised and lived in Boone County, except the community I grew in was purchased by Massey Energy and turned into a strip mine. Armed guards prohibit anyone from returning to the community. All homes have been torn down and there is no sign of a community that once had a population of 300. You're delusional if you think only 1 in ten would agree with me about the devastation by greedy coal operators, most of whom live outside WV, and wouldn't be caught dead living in one of the 'coal camps.'

        • Jerry D

          Are you sure that you didn't sell them your property for a big fat check? And now you paint a picture of being "forced out?"

          Firearms where never allowed on Massey Energy property even while the union was striking! This stands true for Alpha also.

          And why would you have a right to return after you sold out to a mining company where active mining would be occurring?

          PS.... Coal camps do not exist anymore and haven't for some time now!

        • Scott

          So as was saying people who live and work here would not agree with you.I hate your family sold you out.I hope your happy where your living now.Now if you would keep your nose there people who actually live here could be happy too.

          • Herb Underwood

            Obviously, Scotty, you know little about coal camps. Read what was done to miners, their families and their homes when they tried to organize.The miners did not own their homes, they were owned by the coal company. Miners paid monthly rent to the company.
            The company that owned the homes in the community I lived in sold the coal mines and coal homes (and the company store) to Massey who in turn razed the homes and turned what was a community into a strip mine operation.
            The security guard at the entrance to the once abandoned community now turned strip mine was armed.

            And for your information, several of my relatives, much to my concern, still live near, and work on coal mine operations. Notice, I did not say work 'in' coal mines, which would mean underground mines, which no longer exist, with a few exceptions.

        • Scott

          I actually know plenty about it since I live within 30 minutes of Matewan.So what your telling me now is you never owned property it was already the coal company's.

  • Bruno

    Randy Huffman is delusional.

    • Hughesknight

      Randy Huffman is our only hope against the hubris and elitism of the non meritorious crowd.
      And the only hope for poor and retirees that have to pay for the whims of that crowd with ever increasing energy bills.

  • Wirerowe

    Aaron I would not be so hard on them. Some of the poor things are probably stuck in Antarctica ice looking for global warming or hobbits.

    • Joe

      Lol!! Maybe they will find Jimmy Hoffa!!

  • Aaron

    Anytime you are dealing with organizations like the Sierra Club or Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, great exaggeration will always be present.

    • BH

      Anytime you are dealing with Coal Companies, effects of mountain range removal on the environment will be "minimal".