Here is a list of significant events in the Bragg vs. Robertson mountaintop removalcase:April 18, 1998 - The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and 10
coalfield residents filed a formal notice that they planned to sue the state Divisionof Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overmountaintop removal permitting.July 16, 1998 - Sixty days after their warningnotice, lawyers for the Conservancy and the citizens filed a complaint in U.S.District Court in Charleston against DEP and the Corps. The complaint allegedthat both agencies regularly issued mountaintop removal permits that violatewater quality regulations and reclamation rules.Oct. 9, 1998 - Chief U.S.District Judge Charles H. Haden II refused requests by the coal industry and DEPto 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-DEPDirector Michael Miano issued a permit for Arch Coal Inc. to expand its Dal-Texmountaintop removal site near Blair, Logan County. The 3,100-acre permit was thelargest issued in West Virginia history.Dec. 23, 1998 - Lawyers for the
Conservancy agree to drop their complaints against the Corps. In return, federalofficials promise to more closely scrutinize mining permits and conduct a detailedstudy of mountaintop removal.March 3, 1999 - After several days of hearingsand a tour of the proposed site, Haden issued a preliminary injunction blockingArch's Dal-Tex expansion permit. The judge said a helicopter flyover of SouthernWest Virginia had revealed, "the extent and permanence of environmentaldegradation this type of mining produces."April 9, 1999 - Frustrated withits courtroom losses, the Underwood administration hired the Charleston law firmBailey & Glasser to defend DEP in the case.June 24, 1999 - The Corpswithdrew its proposed approval of the Dal-Tex expansion. The agency said there"was virtually no chance" it would win the mountaintop removallawsuit.July 23, 1999 - Nearly 400 United Mine Workers at Dal-Tex were laidoff. 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 thelawsuit. DEP promised to write strict new rules that require operators to rebuildmountains and replant forests. The two sides agreed to ask Haden to decide theone issue they couldn't resolve - whether the stream buffer zone rule prohibitsvalley fills in perennial and intermittent streams.Oct. 20, 1999 - In a 49-pageruling, Haden concluded that the citizens were right. The buffer zone rule prohibitsmost large valley fills. The judge blocked DEP Director Michael Castle fromapproving 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 ofAppeals 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.
-Compiled by Ken Ward Jr.