"The fact of the matter is that the streams of the state don't belong to land companies," Callaghan said. "The streams of the state don't belong to coal companies.
"The streams of the state are public property, and the wildlife that resides in those streams is public property."
Callaghan said, "The new bill that has been passed shuts mitigation down completely. There won't be any mitigation any more. Then the state loses a public resource without compensation."
Greene, president of the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association, agreed the mitigation law needs to be revisited.
"The problem with mitigation is that it was founded without any scientific basis," Greene said.
"We have no idea of the value of streams or the wildlife in them," he said.
George, a top Division of Natural Resources official and state Energy Commission under Gov. Gaston Caperton, also agreed the matter needs another look. Further, George urged the administration to stop fighting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over mine mitigation issues.
"I feel very strongly we need to back away from that," George said. "The state needs to back away from this confrontation and have some negotiations and discussions."
Underwood attended a few minutes of the task force's first meeting at the state Capitol. The governor said he didn't expect the group to be a rubber stamp for the coal industry, but that he feels environmentalists have gone overboard in their criticism of mountaintop removal.
"You have an awful lot of rhetoric. People who do it are going to have to take some responsibility for what their rhetoric causes," Underwood said. "This is not a witchhunt. This is an effort to get a true picture of mountaintop removal."