UPDATE from 6 pm Tuesday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There was good news for the coal industry on Tuesday as a major mountaintop removal project received the green light.
A permit to expand mountaintop removal operations at the Hobet Mine in Boone County has been on hold for more than a year. The permit will allow Patriot Coal to expand its operations to the Lincoln County line, keeping 300 jobs in the area.
The permit will still have to be signed off on by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Democratic congressman said Monday that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told him the agency will send Patriot Coal's application for the Hobet 45 mine to the Army Corps of Engineers this week. The corps issues Clean Water Act permits allowing operators to bury intermittent streams with excess material removed from surface mines.
The permit is one of 79 held up for extra scrutiny since the EPA began trying to curb so-called mountaintop removal coal mines this fall. Environmental activists have been pushing for an outright ban.
Rahall said Patriot negotiated various concessions including water-quality monitoring with the EPA.
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