LAST Thursday, we said a federal law requires a "higher and better" post-mining land use for mountaintop-removal mines that receive a variance from having to restore the terrain to its approximate original contour.Ben Greene, president of the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association, called to point out that the law actually requires an "equal or better" use.
He's right, although that doesn't change the point we were making: that "fish and wildlife habitat and recreation lands" does not meet the standards for post-mining use set out in the 1977 U.S. Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.Calling a cut-off mountain a "fish and wildlife habitat" hardly seems to be an equal, let alone better, use of nature's domain. The U.S. Office of Surface Mining should reject the proposal to allow that category. And OSM should force the state to re-examine permits that have been illegally issued with that designation.