Group Marches to Capitol for Greater Surface Mine Oversight

By: Rahel Solomon Email
By: Rahel Solomon Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Coal River Mountain Watch group and supporters of more coal mine enforcement rallied Monday for greater oversight of West Virginia surface mining.

They met at 11 a.m. Monday at Virginia and Dunbar Streets outside The Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement Office.

Supporters of greater surface mine oversight said they wanted a federal program to take over the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

“For 30 some odd years the DEP has been very lax and has not doing their job properly,” Debbie Jarrell of Coal River Mountain Watch group said.

Critics of greater enforcement tell coal mining regulations already in place are enough and more laws would only hurt jobs where they're critically needed.

“They complicate it with all these bureaucratic mandates causing people to divert from what they're usually doing and raises the cost of mining coal here in West Virginia,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association said.

About 30 people came out to show their support of greater enforcement walking along Virginia Street to the Capitol.

The group also wanted fines for violations of existing mining laws to be steeper.

Advocates presented a petition of their suggestions to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office Monday.

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