November 16, 2012, ABC news/Associated Press
Bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. agreed [on November 15] to become the first U.S. coal operator to phase out and eventually stop all large-scale mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia, under an agreement reached with three environmental groups that sued over pollution from several West Virginia operations. St. Louis-based Patriot said the proposed agreement allows it to postpone as much as $27 million in expenses into 2014 and beyond, improving its liquidity and the likelihood it can successfully emerge from Chapter 11 protection as a viable business.Mountaintop removal is a highly efficient but particularly destructive form of strip mining unique to West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Coal companies blast apart mountain ridge tops to expose multiple coal seams. The resulting rock and debris is dumped in streams, creating so-called valley fills. Patriot is one of the largest mountaintop removal operators in the region. Presented to U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington for consideration, the agreement came out of water pollution lawsuits filed by theSierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, called the agreement a historic moment in the fight against what he called an “abhorrent” form of mining. “Patriot Coal may be the first company to cease mountaintop removal mining, but because of the tireless efforts of committed volunteers and community organizations, it certainly won’t be the last,” he said.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on energy issues, click here.