CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Plans to mine coal very near Kanawha State Forest will bring a windfall to the popular Kanawha County recreation area. The DEP issued the mining permit to Keystone Mining for the project after a five year review and adjustment.

Under the permit agreement, Keystone will not use any of the state forest roads for access to the mining site, no valley fills will be created, and there will be an adequate buffer zone between the mining activity and the forest.

“DEP has done a great job working with the coal company and the DNR,” said Department of Commerce Spokesman Hoy Murphy. “We predict those using Kanawha State Forest will rarely see any evidence of the mining that’s going on next door.”

Additionally, Keystone has agreed to offer some mitiigation benefits to the forest. The company will dredge the forest fishing pond which is silted considerably from the last time the work was done in the 1990’s.

The real windfall for the state forest will be a 10 cent per ton fee Keystone agreed to pay.

“That’s estimated to bring in $700,000 over the course of the mining contract,” Murphy said. “That’s money that will be used by Kanawha State Forest.”

Murphy said preliminary plans earmarked the money for construction of a modern office facility for the forest, which will also include public restrooms and possibly conference space and theater for public presentations.

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Comments

  • Quarry

    I am sure the salamanders, etc. will enjoy the pubic meeting spaces.. Why not some habitat enhancement, etc. instead.

    I live downstream. I feel angry and helpless that these issues are decided by a minority. thornton, I am not with you on this. We will spend multiples more on mitigation over the decades, in tax money than we will reap in severance and income taxes now.

  • zero tolerance

    Beginning a new mining project while other mining companies are running away from the ones they currently own, coal fired power plants slated to be shuttered, and the bonus is location of the Kanawha State Forest. Sounds like good business logic as
    I am sure this will be a successful money making venture for the state and the coal company.

    What a pleasant place it will become when we can watch the wastelands be reclaimed with autumn olive and multi-floral rose. That should highlight the rusting & abandoned equipment, graffiti covered rusty buildings, etc...

    Pathetic!

    • zero tolerance

      and lest we not forget the orange creek beds.......not sure what that is?

      Take a drive on Route 26 from US to Kingwood. Enjoy the view the Left Fork of Little Sandy Creek.

      Can you guess what is at the top above the creek?

      Another responsible MTR project with positive results on the environment and an absolute boom for the local economy of Fellowsville and Tunnelton.

  • thornton

    I would muse on the idea that individuals, families and communities used to happily exist in what is now the Kanawha Forest.
    A forest, likely poorly managed, but a forest that provides succor to many and will do so more easily as the lucre from this project flows in....hopefully.

    Developing resources in this country has lead to individuals being able to buy computers and whine a bit on a message board such as this one.....progress allows us all to profit. Granted, oversight and regulation are a must with development of resources but I reckon this project holds a high probability of success in that area.

    I doubt this project meets the definition of MTR in other than the frustrated voices of the local citizen action group out to color the process to the general public for personal gain.
    Not a fan of MTR but the "laying waste" to the forest smacks of the attitude that has lead to the p-poor management of our state and national forests.....in other words, the rhetoric smells.
    Much as does the "property rights" angle....reads like Marcellus whining with no mineral rights owned.

    As to the "ancestors"....dem folks were not always cloaked in wisdom when considering the depletion of game and non-game species that has occurred. The past can be seen through too rosy a lens for reality, lad.

    • muse

      So the people trying to stop a MTR mine above a community that doesn't want it, and next to a state forest who's users don't want it is doing that for personal gain? Yet the company that wants to blow up the mountain isn't? interesting logic there Thornton.
      I get the feeling that you'll tell yourself whatever it takes to justify hurting people for short-term profit so I'll ask you as well - Do you live below a mountaintop removal mine/strip mine? Do you have to suffer the impacts they inflict? If you don't want to consider the "property rights angle", is it your property that will flood? Is it your property that you will not be able to sell because no one wants to buy a property under a mine? Is it your property coated in blasting dust daily? This isn't rhetoric Thornton, this is reality under a mine.

      • thornton

        Afraid you're characterization of the site as MTR is questionable...perhaps not, perhaps. Your rhetoric(now, blowing up the mountain) leads me to the believing the perhaps...as well as your previous chatter, of course.
        No doubt you will find high-fives down at the local equivalent of a barbershop or coffeeshop....best o' luck.

        You missed connecting personal gain and state parks, lad. Convenient.

        I do not live below a project such as this one or a MTR mine or even a stripmine, no.

        I suspect that there were public comment periods for this project and you or your group were frustrated in the response to pleas, if you pled...perhaps again, your rhetoric was too opposite the reality. Perhaps, the "do you-s" are all that is in your quiver.

        • muse

          This isn't a game and it isn't about having more arguments to shoot from my metaphorical quiver. Mountaintop removal mining hurts people. It hurts people's property. If you don't want to call it MTR that's okay. Call it whatever you like. The fact is that this company wants to use explosives to remove the mountaintop. You don't want to call using explosives "blowing it up", that's fine too. Apply whatever euphemisms are most comfortable. Until you have experienced life in the shadow of a surface mine you have no right to wish or inflict such a thing on anyone else.

          • thornton

            MTR is an emotional trigger word that elicits a negative response...from me as well.
            Clearcut is another trigger word with widely different physical descriptions that generalizations ignore.
            Your use of the spectre of MTR and the description of this project as MTR is little more than propaganda meant to enflame and incite. Both can be gimmicks of the frustrated and the dishonest....such as here.

            You continually rely on that spectre and the "do you's" to chatter away ...that limited view and self-focus lets you down.

  • muse

    Site doesn't allow me to respond below your last comment, bookman, so back to the top. You still haven't answered my question. Have you ever had to live below a mountaintop removal mine (or "strip job" if you prefer)? And let me re-phrase your last question, because what I'm hearing you say is this - If I sat on a few hundred million dollars of coal and I had the opportunity to destroy forever the mountains that my ancestors for generations depended on for abundant healthy food (game, nuts, greens, etc) and clear mountain water that allowed them to live as free and self-reliant individuals, families, and communities; If I could lay waste to the forest that has the ability, through sustainable yields to sustain and provide income and beauty for countless generations of my descendents; If I could pollute my neighbors streams, increase the risk of flooding to their homes, force them to breath the toxic dust I expel with every blast, infringing on the health and property rights of all those unfortunate enough to own land nearby, you are asking if it is worth it? No, it isn't worth it to me. Is it worth it to you? Some things are more important than money. When we take care of this land, it takes care of us. You speak as though you have never felt a connection to a place that nourishes and sustains you, and has nourished and sustained your family for generations. You speak as someone who has never experienced that, and more importantly, as someone who has never had that taken away by the greed and short-sightedness of industry. When we lose our land, we lose our freedom. We lose our self-reliance, we lose our self-determination. And we steal those things from our neighbors, and from our children.

    • The bookman

      I am a lifelong West Virginian. Multigenerational West Virginian. I don't live in Southern WV but I've travelled it extensively. What I can say regarding that region of the state is that its lifeblood is coal. Without it, much of the population will have to leave, as it is the economic engine that sustains the regional economy.

      Regardless of where you live in this State, natural resource development fuels the economy. No, I don't live below, or even a few miles from MTR or strip mining. I live next to stone quarries and big timber. My business is located in the heart of the Marcellus play. I grew up near a pulp mill. It would be wonderful to live in a world without the scars of industry, to set around a campfire in a meadow full of wild flowers and sing John Denver tunes, to climb to the top of a mountain and see for miles and miles an unbroken wilderness untouched by human hands, but the reality is that we have chosen a different path as a society. Your issue isn't this project. Your issue is industry in general and the mark it leaves on the environment. We need to do what we can to minimize the environmental impacts of industry, but you must become realistic about where you live and what sustains our economy. It is impossible to enjoy both the untouched land for which you yearn and the technological creature comforts of an advanced society.

      • muse

        Bookman, I appreciate your respectful tone and your thoughtful replies. That can be an uncommon thing out here on the internet. I would ask that you reconsider your assessment of southern west Virginia. Consider all the people who are leaving because of coal and the damage it has done. Every single one of my good friends from childhood left this state. After the chemical spill many in my community seriously considered leaving. They are business owners, parents. I have children and I don't relish the idea of staying in a place where the moonscape of surface mining grows like a cancer on my homeland and rates of asthma, cancer, and birth defects increase the closer one lives to strip mining. I stay anyway because of a deep love for this place and a desire to protect it for my children and theirs. Coal doesn't sustain our economy the way it did at one time. Coal is a dying industry and in it's death throes is actually taking away our potential to transition to a more sustainable economy. Millions of acres of hardwood forest have been taken by an industry with no regard for our future. Tourism potential has been taken. Clean water resources have been taken. We can't even eat fish from our state waters anymore without ingesting mercury and PCBs which come, in large part, from burning coal. I would ask that you take a long range view of where the decisions we are making today will lead us. If we continue to let industry plunder our land while taking the vast majority of the profits out of state and externalizing most of the costs by leaving us to deal with the environmental, social, and health impacts, what will our region look like in 50 years, in 100 years, in 200? Do you see a place you would want to live? I don't. Being realistic to me means taking a hard look at our decisions ("our path as a society" as you put it) and deciding if that is really the world I want. For me, it isn't and I'm realistically trying to help us find a different path to walk. I don't yearn for untouched land. I yearn for land that is respectfully used by humans who are not so arrogant that they cannot consider the impacts, both long and short term, of their own actions on their neighbors, their communities, and those who will inherit this land when we have left it.

        • The bookman

          My perspective on Southern WV is that coal is at times a necessary evil. It is an ugly business, made worse by greed and dishonesty. But it is necessary. As I've said before, I've travelled extensively through Southern WV, and coal touches everything there. Without another source of jobs, the absence of coal will require the vast majority of people living there to leave. What must happen in the short term is the development of an exit strategy for coal as the economic engine. Even in the absence of Obama, coal is heading out in 40 years. The people of Southern WV need to demand that their leaders prepare a way to transition out of coal and into something else. Four wheelers won't be enough to save them.

          • muse

            Thanks for the conversation, Bookman, I enjoyed it. Until next time.

    • Wirerowe

      Do you own property or do your relatives own property in the vicinity of the proposed mining operation?

      • muse

        I'm going to guess that you're missing the point Wireowe. But to answer you, I live a few miles from this MTR site.

        • Wirerowe

          I live a few miles from the site as well. My guess is that it doesn't impact either one of personally. I have lived all my life here and I love our mountains and Valleys as well. You don't support this project . I do. Your holier than thou attitude is not going to change many minds. Have A great day.

  • muse

    To all of you crowing over how good this will be for WV, do you live below a mountaintop removal mine? Have you had your home flooded from the runoff of bare rock where a forest used to be to absorb the rain? Have you had to clean the blasting dust off your home every single day? Have you had to endure daily explosions so near they shake your home? Have you experienced having the places you grew up in, the places that made your memories, the places you learned to hunt and fish, blasted away forever and blackened with slurry? Have you had that experience? Because until you have I don't want to hear a word about how good mountaintop removal is for WV.

    • The bookman

      This isn't an MTR site.

      • muse

        This absolutely is an MTR site. Have you looked at the permit?

        • The bookman

          Have you read the permit? It isn't listed on the DEP site as of yet. There are zero valley fills, and a mandated AOC, so it looks like a strip job with all eyes on the job. I've read the NPDES and it points to strip mining. What information do you have that infers MTR?

          • The bookman

            So if you sat on a few hundred million dollars of coal, would you mine it or leave it on the ground. If you could extract it in a responsible way, under the heightened regulatory conditions in which we exist, create 65 jobs for 10 years and provide upwards of 20 million dollars in severance to the state, would that be worth it? Is anything worth it, or is it just the "not in your backyard" argument, with your backyard being in the Saudi Arabia of coal reserves of course!

          • muse

            Common Sense. I'm not interested in spurious semantic arguments. The mountaintop is being removed. All of it. Down the entire length of the ridge. Permit map right here in front of me. More important than the semantics is how you chose to respond to my comment. You want to call it "a strip job"? Fine. Now how about coming to live in the holler below it? Because I'll tell you, not a single person in that holler want that mine there. And yes, I've asked them.

  • thornton

    No doubt, there will be issues that arise which will make the anti-coalers grin and slobber, such is the reality of doing business with big shovels around folks perched and ready to crow loudly. Which, actually, can be a good thing...just not when any narrow agenda drives commonsense away to everyone's ultimate loss.

    I do not know all the requirements and limits of the project but expect that this project was especially well-vetted and will be especially well-monitored.
    So, whatever the actual windfall(who knows?) to the KF, this would be a win for all. It would be nice if a runaway Stihl or Husky happened to raise the early successional % of the KF to a healthy number but...perhaps a bit of that coming lucre can be saved for chain saw gas and blue smoke.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Now we know how much our state government values the natural beauty of the Kanawha State Forest: ten cents a ton.

    • Aaron

      I'm curious MCC, what are your thougths on the current mountain top removal going on at Yeager airport and Northgate Business Park?

      • Mason County Contrarian

        I really haven't considered those particular projects. I am not familiar with whether or not boarding figures indicate there is a need for an expansion at the airport (as I have never flown) and I have never been to Northgate. Aaron, I have no problem with any project, including mining near a forest--as long it is done in a responsible way that does not provide fodder for those who point fingers and decry an entire industry. In general terms, a few coal corporations have been our worst enemy, but most conduct accepted practices to minimize environmental impact. Though I express no opinion but my own, I would venture to guess that you and I are like most West Virginians who simply want all mining or business expansion done in such a balanced and responsible manner that cares for Creation and, at the same time, provides employment for our people.
        I believe that approach is possible without resorting to either extreme.

        • Wirerowe

          As well stated a position for where the middle ground should be. IMHO with which you will not probably agree is that the pendulum is off the hinges and elitist extremist environmentalists are driving the bus off a cliff. They have no consideration for economics, competitiveness of our nations industries, blue collar jobs, local and state economies and the poor and elderly on fixed incomes paying higher energy prices. If you think that sounds like a pr guy for the fossil fuel, agriculture and manufacturing industries of America. Then I am proud to be that pr man.

          • Mason County Contrarian

            Thanks, wirerowe for your compliment. I try to visit the middle ground as often as possible--though many times I need to remind myself to look and find the middle ground. The soil there is fertile and, Lord knows, there is plenty of room because it is infrequently visited.

            Yes, the pendulum is off the hinges. I tend to see the extremists on both sides as having their arguments in all-or-nothing terms. I agree that we need to find that balance between employment and being good environmental stewards. The balance is out there.

            Responsibility and stewardship go hand-in-hand, from the mining company to the electricity consumer. It simply takes a desire to do the right thing and find that balance point.

    • The bookman

      MCC,

      I think when you look at the permit in its totality, the benefits far outweigh 10 cents per ton.

      65 employees that will be WV residents
      $4.2 million annual payroll
      $2.2 million in severance tax per year
      $845,000 in property tax payments

      A five year permit process that reduced the size of the project 20%, created a buffer between the Forest and the Private development of resources, required the return of the site to approximate original contour, provided minimum compaction of soil to enhance root growth, required the planting of hardwood species of trees, and on and on and on. Add in the direct payment of an estimated $700,000 on top of the severance in mitigation to the DNR and direct improvements to the Forest by Keystone as mandated by the permit, and I cannot see why anyone would question the benefit of the project or the due diligence of DEP in the development of the permit. Unless of course, you're just anti coal?

      • Mason County Contrarian

        My concern is that I hope (1) we begin to shy away from making our mountains look like moonscapes with the unwillingness of the state to force corporations to correct following their extractive practices (2) the permit's requirements for mitigation and stated windfalls are carried out rather than simply placed into a "general fund" (3) these numbers of projected employment, severance taxes, salaries, property taxes, etc. are within a reasonable range of the end result.

        If doubting or questioning makes me a part of the "anti-coal" crowd (shades of Eugene McCarthy!), I stand to be counted.

        • The bookman

          I think we all need to be a little more observant on the back end of these projects as well, and I think that's a good point. I'll try to put my rose colored glasses in the dresser, for a while anyhow.

          The truth is that I really do pay quite a bit of attention, and subscribe to more environmentally friendly journals and newsprint, and am a dues paying member of the Highlands Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and Trout Unlimited. I also don't have a Friends of Coal license plate. I'm about jobs and economic growth, followed by accountability. I doubt we are very different in what we would like to see in our state, just differ in how to get there. Sometimes I feel like you don't believe we CAN get there. Is that true?

          • Mason County Contrarian

            I believe we can get there. I believe it will take proper diligence on everyone's part, from the businessman trying to turn a profit to the consumer using electricity generated from coal and all points in between.

            I appreciate your comments. Well said.

      • Aaron

        I think the key is 'no valley fills' Bookman. I've recently completed a course in Appalachian History and have spent the last month studying extraction materials and from all the environmentalist that speak on the documentaries I've watched, the overall consensus of MTR mining that does the most damage is valley fills.

        The 2nd most damaging aspect is in that they play hydroseed that promotes grass growth but the Ph levels are not conducive to hardwood growth. I'm not sure what environmentalist have to complain about given that all of their previously stated concerns have been met.

        As Keystone has jumped through all their hoops, are they now required by the "home office" to find something new to complain about?

        • The bookman

          AOC, or approximate original contour, would necessitate minimum or zero valley fill. It was the valley fill that raised so much concern at Spruce#1, and I think permits going forward will have to reflect that goal of AOC.

          • Mason County Contrarian

            Your background knowledge of MTR is far greater than my own. Not knowing when the AOC was implemented, I would like to think that if the AOC principle allowing for minimized valley fill were followed more strictly in the past perhaps a lot of criticism would have been avoided at the present time.

            I am not sure though. That is an assumption on my part.

        • Mason County Contrarian

          I believe you are correct regarding valley fill.

  • Patrick Lawson

    INSANITY!

  • WV PATRIOT

    Yeh right---
    Like Kanawha Stare Forrest will see any of that money. it makes for a good story in the news.
    if You believe that Kanawha State Forrest will see any money or any improvements to the park, I got some ocean front property for sale on Coal River.

    Besides I believe any and all moneys are by law to go to the WV GENERAL FUND.

    Anybody out there know the law on this farce.??

  • OMG

    Just wait until liberals and ding dong obama heres about this, they will do everything they can to stop it. All of WV needs to step up and stand up to this war on coal. To many jobs have been lost. I just hope this mine actually gets to the production phase before they stop it.