STATE taxpayers are giving two Charleston lawyers $195 and $150 an hour to defend the state's dubious enforcement of mountaintop removal mining laws.The lawyers' bills to the state were concealed, until Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr. used the Freedom of Information Act to force the Division of Environmental Protection to reveal them.The bill for May says one lawyer worked 236 hours at his DEP assignment. Well, May had 21 working days. So that means he worked more than 11 hours per day - unless he worked weekends as well.
Parts of the bill were blacked out, so the public can't learn who the lawyers visited and where they traveled.So far, the legal bills for April and May total $106,000. Is this how West Virginians want their tax money spent?We have a better suggestion: DEP should enforce federal laws properly, so the agency won't be sued, and there will be no need for outside lawyers to work 11 hours a day defending it.