“... there is a fear there are no clear rules of the game by which to seek mining permits,” Rahall said.
Jackson acknowledged the industry needs both clarity and certainty.
Rahall said he plans to maintain an open line of communication with the federal agencies on the delayed permits.
He also reminded the panel that as a freshman congressman in 1977 he crafted the landmark Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which allows for mountaintop mining.
But the holdup has arrived with 1,987 amendments to the Clean Water Act, he noted.
“The situation we face today in the Appalachian coalfields is that the EPA has invoked its authority to, for the lack of a better term, ‘second guess’ the Army Corps of Engineers issuance of section 401 permits,” Rahall said.
As a result, the issue reaches beyond the 79 permits and could impact the future of surface mining, he said.
“In fact,” Rahall said, “many of my constitutions believe that the future of coal — all coal — is at stake.
“There is a great deal of frustration and concern in the Appalachian coalfields as a result of the current review. I have to say that I share that concern.”
State Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, launched a new Web site, www.supportwvcoal. com, seeking 15,000 people to sign an online petition to be sent to EPA, asking it to move forward with the permits.
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