Coal miners who were given the day off work, caravans of environmentalists, businessmen and local politicians and pundits arrived Tuesday night for a public hearing in Pikeville, Ky., on proposed changes to a 1982 federal regulation allowing valleys to be filled with dirt and rock left over from mountaintop mining.
The Army Corps of Engineers heard public comments before about 4,500 people in the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center concerning its proposal to eliminate the use of a nationwide permit for coal mining in six Appalachian states: Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Banners with the slogans "Coal Keeps the Lights On" and "Friends of Coal" stretched a park where pro-coal groups were recruiting members and selling bumper stickers. The green T-shirts of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, who are against mountaintop-removal mining, dotted the multicolored sea of shirts declaring "Coal Mining: Our Future."
"Although its scale and efficiency has enabled the mining of once inaccessible coal seams, this mining practice often stresses the natural environment and impacts the health and welfare of surrounding human communities," said a June 11 memorandum of understanding among the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Read the full story at kentucky.com.