MAC: Mines and Communities

Ohio: Coal mining below forest to go on

Published by MAC on 2007-03-07

Ohio: Coal mining below forest to go on

Business Week, YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio

7th March 2007

A state appeals court has let stand a decision by state regulators to allow coal mining beneath one of Ohio's last old-growth forests.

The 7th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled that the Ohio Reclamation Commission was within its authority to give Ohio Valley Coal Co. a permit to mine under 400-year-old trees in Dysart Woods in Belmont County, about 80 miles east of Columbus.

The company wants to use room and pillar mining, which will leave pillars of coal to help prevent cave-ins. The company will carve a path under 14 acres of the forest to get to 2,400 acres of coal.

Environmental groups have argued that the mining would damage the trees and an underground spring that provides water for the area.

The company has maintained the mining will not harm the trees or any plant growth.

"Our mining plan and mining rights have been finally vindicated and millions of dollars of scientific research by independent university consultants has been upheld," Robert Murray, director of Ohio Valley and chairman, president and chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., said in a statement.

Brandi Whetstone, executive director of the Buckeye Forest Council, said there are scientific flaws in the company's case.

"I'm really disappointed and saddened by the court's decision," she said.

She said mining leaves to chance whether the woods will be harmed.

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