Here is a list of significant events in the Bragg vs. Robertson mountaintop removal
April 18, 1998 - The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and 10
coalfield residents filed a formal notice that they planned to sue the state Division
of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over
mountaintop removal permitting.
July 16, 1998 - Sixty days after their warning
notice, lawyers for the Conservancy and the citizens filed a complaint in U.S.
District Court in Charleston against DEP and the Corps. The complaint alleged
that both agencies regularly issued mountaintop removal permits that violate
water quality regulations and reclamation rules.
Oct. 9, 1998 - Chief U.S.
District Judge Charles H. Haden II refused requests by the coal industry and DEP
to dismiss the case. Haden ruled that the case belongs in federal court, a
decision that is a key issue in ongoing appeals.
Nov. 4, 1998 - Then-DEP
Director Michael Miano issued a permit for Arch Coal Inc. to expand its Dal-Tex
mountaintop removal site near Blair, Logan County. The 3,100-acre permit was the
largest issued in West Virginia history.
Dec. 23, 1998 - Lawyers for the
Conservancy agree to drop their complaints against the Corps. In return, federal
officials promise to more closely scrutinize mining permits and conduct a detailed
study of mountaintop removal.
March 3, 1999 - After several days of hearings
and a tour of the proposed site, Haden issued a preliminary injunction blocking
Arch's Dal-Tex expansion permit. The judge said a helicopter flyover of Southern
West Virginia had revealed, "the extent and permanence of environmental
degradation this type of mining produces."
April 9, 1999 - Frustrated with
its courtroom losses, the Underwood administration hired the Charleston law firm
Bailey & Glasser to defend DEP in the case.
June 24, 1999 - The Corps
withdrew its proposed approval of the Dal-Tex expansion. The agency said there
"was virtually no chance" it would win the mountaintop removal
July 23, 1999 - Nearly 400 United Mine Workers at Dal-Tex were laid
off. Arch Coal says it couldn't continue operating without the expansion permit.
July 26, 1999 - Lawyers for DEP and the citizens agreed to settle most of the
lawsuit. DEP promised to write strict new rules that require operators to rebuild
mountains and replant forests. The two sides agreed to ask Haden to decide the
one issue they couldn't resolve - whether the stream buffer zone rule prohibits
valley fills in perennial and intermittent streams.
Oct. 20, 1999 - In a 49-page
ruling, Haden concluded that the citizens were right. The buffer zone rule prohibits
most large valley fills. The judge blocked DEP Director Michael Castle from
approving any new fills in perennial and intermittent streams.
Oct. 29, 1999 -
Haden suspended his ruling, pending an appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Richmond, Va.
Nov. 18, 1999 - Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.,
failed in an effort to pass a legislative rider to overturn Haden's ruling.