In that report, Arch Coal informed investors that a federal court lawsuit was filed in July which challenges the legality of mountaintop removal permits. The suit alleges valley fills that bury streams violate the federal Clean Water Act.
The Arch Coal SEC report said the lawsuit identified nine company permits that are alleged to violate the legal standards. The suit cites the Dal-Tex expansion permit as one that shouldn't be issued as written.
Arch Coal said in the report that any changes in existing or pending permits could hurt the company.
"Elimination of valley fills altogether as an engineering alternative for disposal of soil and rock in large- scale surface mining would have a material adverse effect on the results of operations," the report said.
Arch Coal also said that the company is not sure that EPA will withdraw its objection to a permit for the Dal-Tex expansion, or that if it does, the permit will be issued in a timely fashion.
Permit applications on file with the DEP Office of Mining and Reclamation state that Arch Coal originally wanted to start mining the new, 3,100-acre permit in January 1998. The initial date was later pushed back to July 1, the records show.
Joe Lovett, a lawyer representing citizens who are fighting mountaintop removal, has filed court motions that explain his lawsuit won't stop all mountaintop removal.
"Valley fills would have to be smaller and would have to be constructed in the portions of the hollows that are above the waters of the United States," Lovett said in a recent court brief. "This could be accomplished by reducing the size of the mining cut and by requiring the mining operations to place more of the mining spoil back on the mountain after mining," Lovett wrote.