"Environmental groups announced Thursday they had reached a settlement with A&G Coal Corporation, a business owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s family, over the cleanup of three coal mines in Virginia’s Wise County.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia by Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Appalachian Voices and the Sierra Club over A&G’s failure to clean up the Looney Ridge Surface Mine #1, Sawmill Hollow #3 Mine and Canepatch Surface Mine.
The mines were first permitted in 2004 and disturbed more than 3,300 acres of land over nearly two decades, a news release on the settlement states. The three mines produced about 1.5 million tons of coal per year on average in their first decade, but production then declined steeply, and none have produced any coal since 2017.
State and federal law require that cleanup, generally known as reclamation, be done in conjunction with mining operations to ensure coal companies do not leave environmental problems behind once coal production ends. But data from the Virginia Department of Energy collected between March and July show that only just over 900 of the 3,300 acres disturbed have been regraded and revegetated, with most of the work being completed nearly a decade ago."
Charlie Paullin reports for States Newsroom January 19, 2023.