The Sierra Club said June 17 that the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) recently upheld its February decision to deny the Ison Rock Ridge surface mine permit after an appeal by A&G Coal, the company applying for the permit.
The Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and Sierra Club opposed the appeal, arguing that A&G had failed to timely pursue the application as required by state law.
“I am so pleased to finally see the DMME stand up for the people they are supposed to represent,” said Sam Broach, president of SAMS. “The people living in the areas affected by surface mining can sleep well tonight knowing that the mountains above them won’t be blown up, and the air they breathe will be a little bit cleaner. This courageous decision will save our waterways, too.”
The permit application was considered technically complete by the DMME in May 2010, but has been held up due to concerns that the mine will not adhere to water quality standards in nearby Callahan Creek, the club said. Further, the Southern Coal operation of coal operator Jim Justice, which owns A&G, was required to resolve at least four outstanding mine permit violations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, before the permit could be issued, the club added. The decision from the DMME again denies A&G’s application due to the company’s failure to take the necessary steps to pursue the application for at least two years, the club said.