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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.

    -Compiled by Ken Ward Jr.

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