United Mine Workers lawyers hope to work out a resolution that will give Arch Coal Inc. its permit, protect the jobs of more than 300 UMW members, and lessen the environmental impacts of the largest mountaintop removal permit in state history.
The UMW wants Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Haden II to let the union intervene in a federal court lawsuit over mountaintop removal. The judge has not ruled on the request.
In court papers, the union's lawyers say that a 2-week-old preliminary injunction order from Haden "leaves some areas of potential resolution."
Haden issued an order March 3 that blocks new permits for Arch Coal Inc.'s Dal-Tex complex in Logan County until a full trial scheduled for September. Less than a week after Haden's order, Arch Coal announced it would close Dal-Tex, and lay off more than 300 workers by August.
Four days later, the UMW filed a motion to intervene in the case.
Public statements indicate the union's main interest was to convince Haden to move up the date for the trial. Court papers show the union also wants to try to work out a compromise over the mining techniques proposed by Arch Coal.
In a news release, UMW President Cecil Roberts said, "We need to be a part of any legal proceedings on this matter, which involves the livelihoods of hundreds of UMWA members and their families.
"We're urging the court to shorten the freeze on permits," Roberts said. "During that shortened period, preliminary development of the mining site should continue.
"Such a solution would allow miners to continue working while the economic and environmental issues of this matter are resolved," he said.
In legal motions filed March 12, the UMW lawyers said, "Consistent with [the UMW's] previously stated policies of advancing both the jobs of its members and historic environmental concerns of the West Virginia community, the UMWA will add to the potential alternatives by exploring those alternatives which protect the jobs of its members consistent with reasonable enforcement of the statutes in question.