Last month The Highlands Voice reported that several groups had sued the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. They alleged that the DEP had changed the way it runs its mine bonding program without telling the federal Office of Surface Mining that it was making the change.
Now the DEP has agreed to send the required notice to the Office of Surface Mining. That particular bit of litigation is over.
The big picture is that the system that West Virginia uses to ensure that mine sites are properly cleaned up is not set up to provide adequate funding for that task. How we address this problem will be ongoing. For more detail, see the December, 2020, issue of The Highlands Voice.
If you are keeping score at home, you can put this one down as a win for the groups, including the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. You should, however, use a very small W. Faced with a formal notification that West Virginia is changing the way it addresses this problem, the Office of Surface Mining will probably become involved in some way. It has the power to require West Virginia to solve this problem. While the problem is sufficiently large that there may be no one who can solve it, there is reason to hope that participation by the Office of Surface Mining will help move us toward a solution.