An area of West Virginia the size of Logan County is currently disturbed by strip mining, according to a new report from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining.
In its annual review of West Virginia's mining regulatory program, OSM said that 286,400 acres - about 450 square miles - of the state is currently disturbed by surface coal mining.
The 22-page OSM report stated that coal operators last year received permits to strip twice as many acres as they reclaimed.
During the review period from Oct. 1, 1997 to Sept. 30, 1998, the state issued 78 new surface mining permits covering 11,370 acres. About half that amount, 6,549 acres, was completely reclaimed during the same period.
The area permitted for mining was down dramatically over the previous year, from more than 20,000 acres.
The area reclaimed, however, was about the same.
Much of the new OSM report focused on the ongoing controversy over mountaintop removal mining.
OSM is currently reviewing public comments on a separate, draft oversight report on mountaintop removal.
No date for release of the final report, or proposed new rules on mountaintop removal based on the report, has been announced.