Emerson said Dal-Tex is trying to find a way to meet the mining law's goals of protective cover, and get hardwood trees to grow.
At some places along the grassy hills of the reclaimed sites, grass and cover have disappeared. Erosion of soil is clearly visible. Coal company crews have heavy equipment in those areas, trying to fix the problems.
Coal company officials say those aren't major obstacles. But regulators say such incidents are common, at least during early phases of reclamation work.
"In a steep area like that, they might have to do something once every year," said Joe Parker, assistant chief of the DEP Office of Mining and Reclamation. "But once the vegetative cover is established, it will be less and less until it comes back entirely."
During the session on coal's economic impact, Dal-Tex's White said coal is responsible for one of every five jobs in the state, and most of the tax base and jobs in coalfield communities.
"We are a highly regulated and highly taxed industry," White said.
White also said environmentalists who oppose mountaintop removal should look at their own everyday lives before they attack the industry too harshly.
"Every time you flick on a light, microwave or refrigerator, you use electricity and you encourage more mining of coal," White said. "Some day we might have a better alternative than coal. Right now, we don't."
Six members of a 16-member gubernatorial mountaintop removal task force, which was named Friday, attended the tour. Marshall University President J. Wade Gilley, the panel's chairman, did not attend.
Two representatives of the West Virginia Development Office rode along on the tour to scout out flat land that could be used for new business and industry.
"There's a great need in West Virginia for flat land," said agency Deputy Director Dana Davis.
"There are some mine sites where it would be feasible, and some where it would not," Davis said. "But if there are sites where industrial and commercial developments are possible, that should be part of the mining and reclamation plan."
Logan County resident Jack Caudill, who attended the tour, saw things a little differently. He said residents near mountaintop removal deal with blasting, dust, noise and water pollution.
"It's pretty up there," Caudill said, pointing to a reclaimed hillside. "But it's not like that down in the communities where people live.
"I'm not trying to put anybody out of a job," said Caudill, a former miner who lives in Taplin and works with the West Virginia Organizing Project. "If they can do this safely and not bother people, and create jobs, hey, that's great."