Fate of 500 Mining Jobs Still Uncertain

By: Kallie Cart Email
By: Kallie Cart Email

CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A judge's decision has put a mining permit in limbo. Now more than 500 workers are preparing for their mine to close.

The problem is at CONSOL's Fola mine in Clay County. Leaders say a "technicality" put a mining permit that was on its way to approval, on hold.

The public comment period was not long enough. Now the comment period is back open, but the problem is the permit is now open to new regulations by the federal Environment Protection Agency.

"This is one that has won reclamation awards," Gov. Joe Manchin said about the Fola mine Monday. "If this is not going to be allowed to be done, then this is an assault on all mining that we do in our state."

Manchin and U.S. Representatives Shelley Moore Capito and Nick Rahall met with CONSOL officials, workers and county leaders Monday to talk about the future of the mine.

CONSOL has filed a stay of the judge's decision. If the permit is not approved, the mine will have to shut down. Fola mine makes up more than half of Clay County's economy.

The company will know on Jan. 23, 2010, if the stay has been granted. In the meantime, Manchin urged workers to write to U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers and express their concerns.

Capito and Rahall say they are fighting the battle in Washington. Rahall says the best route is to work with the EPA. Capito says she had a meeting with the head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, and was told the impact of the economy doesn't factor into their decisions over the permits.

For months, leaders have been asking the EPA to specify how mining companies can comply with their rules.


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