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City law firm bills DEP another $62,000

Private lawyers hired to defend the state's regulation of mountaintop removal have billed taxpayers another $62,000, records showed Monday.

The Charleston firm Bailey & Glasser has now billed the state Division of Environmental Protection $106,000 for two months of work, the records show.

The latest bill, submitted June 2, covered fees and expenses for the month of May. Bailey & Glasser submitted an earlier bill for $43,000 in fees and expenses in April.

DEP Director Michael Miano released both bills only after The Charleston Gazette filed Freedom of Information Act requests.

The bills released provide little information about what the lawyers are doing to earn their money.

Brian Glasser, a partner in the law firm, marked out descriptions of the work performed - including places where lawyers traveled and people they met with - before releasing the bills. Glasser contends the information is protected by attorney-client and attorney-work product privileges.

In July 1998, environmentalists sued DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They alleged the agencies issued mountaintop removal mining permits that did not comply with federal law.

In March, Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Haden II issued a preliminary injunction that blocked DEP from issuing the largest mountaintop removal permit in state history.

A few weeks later, Miano hired Bailey & Glasser to take over defense of DEP's permitting policies. Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw Jr. approved the hiring of the firm.

The May bill from Bailey & Glasser includes:

Fees of $35,500 for 236 hours of work performed by Glasser, who is paid $150 per hour.

Fees of $19,300 for partner Ben Bailey, who charges $195 per hour. Bailey performed about 100 hours of work during the month.

Fees of $1,740 for 21 hours of work by Chuck Little, the firm's investigator. Little charges $85 per hour.

Fees of about $2,300 for Jennifer Fahey, an associate in the firm. Fahey worked 22 hours and is paid $105 per hour.

Charges of $1,800 in expenses, mostly for copying, online research and travel.

The May bill did not include any charges for DEP's expert witnesses, including former DEP Director Eli McCoy.

To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., call 348-1702, or send e-mail to kw...@wvgazette.com.


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