Mining settlement hearing sought

Lawyers for citizens groups, state regulators and the coal industry on Friday asked a federal judge to hold another hearing so they could better explain part of a mountaintop removal lawsuit settlement.Brian Glasser, lawyer for the state Division of Environmental Protection, asked Chief U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden II to hold the hearing.In a one-paragraph motion filed late Friday, Glasser asked Haden to schedule the hearing "at the Court's convenience in September 1999."Glasser said that engineers for DEP, citizens groups and coal industry organizations would use the hearing to explain proposed new rules to define the approximate original contour reclamation requirements.Engineers for the various groups worked out the new proposals to force coal operators to rebuild more of the mountains they tear down with mountaintop removal mining.
Under a proposed settlement filed with Haden late last month, DEP would agree to finalize the new rules.The rules would establish the amount of rock and earth coal operators would have to put back on mined-out areas to meet the AOC standard. The rules are meant to limit the amount of rock and earth dumped into stream-bed valley fills.Engineers for the parties have not completed their formula, but have released some general guidelines - called a "working paper" - they are using to develop the concrete rules, according to court records.During a hearing July 30, Haden scolded lawyers in the case and told them they had a long way to go before they could consider the case settled.The lawyers said they would report back to Haden by Sept. 1 on their progress in finalizing details of the proposed settlement.

To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., call 348-1702, or e-mail

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