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.”