The state's largest coal producer has launched an advertising campaign to defend its use of mountaintop removal mining.
Arch Coal Inc. paid for two-page spreads in newspapers across the state on Sunday.
"We plan to have additional ads in the print media," said Arch Coal Vice President David Todd. "And we plan to do other media in the near future."
St. Louis-based Arch Coal operates the state's largest mountaintop removal operations at sprawling complexes in Boone, Logan and Kanawha counties.
Mountaintop removal has come under severe criticism from the media, environmental groups and the federal government. A lawsuit was filed in federal court to curb the practice.
Old-time strip mining shaved the sides of hills to remove coal seams.
Mountaintop removal blasts off entire mountaintops so huge shovels and dozers can reach valuable low-sulfur coal underneath. Leftover rock and earth is dumped into streams and valleys.
In its ads published Sunday, Arch Coal called the practice "mountaintop mining," rather than mountaintop removal, and said of the method, "It's good for West Virginia, and it's the right thing to do."
"Arch Coal and its subsidiaries have been practicing underground and mountaintop mining in West Virginia for the past two decades," the ads said. "Our goal is to operate the industry's safest, most environmentally responsible mines.
"Pursuing that standard is the right thing to do. It respects our heritage, and we think it's also good business."
The ads included full-color photographs of reclaimed mine sites, as well as photos of deer and of a farmhouse lit by electric lights at night.