Two more of the Southern West Virginia citizens who sued to try to curb mountaintop removal mining have dropped out of the case, court records showed Wednesday.
Madison lawyer Harry Hatfield and his wife, Marcia, asked earlier this week to be removed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, according to records in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Hatfield said he still had some problems with mountaintop removal, but didn't want to see the area economy ruined by the lawsuit.
"I still have many of the concerns I had before, but whether it's worth the price we're going to pay down here, I don't know anymore," Hatfield said. "It's a terrible price to pay for the 300 or more people who are going to lose their jobs.
"It's an immediate and horrible price to pay, and it's in an area that doesn't have anything else," he said. "Coal is the only game in town. I wish we had a more diverse economy, but we don't."
Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Haden II approved their request in an order entered Tuesday afternoon. Haden's order said he dismissed the couple as plaintiffs "for good cause shown."
In a written request to Haden, the Hatfields cited unspecified "personal reasons" for wanting out of the case.
In July 1998, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and a group of coalfield residents filed a federal court lawsuit to try to limit the size and scope of mountaintop removal operations.