Task force Chairman Wade Gilley, the president of Marshall University, said a public hearing on the draft reports will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Marshall Graduate College in South Charleston.
A final task force meeting, to approve the group's complete report to the governor, is scheduled for Dec. 2.
Copies of the draft reports are scheduled to be posted within the next two days on the task force's Web site (http://www.marshall
Among the highlights of the three committee reports:
- The economic committee recommended that coal operators no longer be allowed to receive mountaintop removal permits that propose post-mining land uses of fish and wildlife habitat.
Committee members agreed that fish and wildlife does not provide the type of development required to receive a mountaintop removal permit. They recommended that more mine sites be reforested, and that state regulators require more strict planning of post-mining commercial and industrial development.
- The committee on community impact recommended the state Division of Environmental Protection form a new office to address the effects of mountaintop removal on nearby residents.
Under the committee recommendation, DEP would have to study and weigh these effects, and require additional steps to minimize them, when issuing permits. The committee also recommended that lawmakers approve a measure to make it easier for residents to hold coal companies responsible for property damage believed to be caused by blasting.
- The environmental committee recommended the governor ask the Legislature to repeal a bill which allows coal companies to avoid compensating the state for streams buried under strip mine waste piles.
- The economic committee recommended Underwood ask the Legislature to consider next year whether mountaintop removal should be allowed at all.
"The fundamental political, social and economic values manifested in any expansion or limitation of surface mining are properly and exclusively the province of the legislative branch," the draft committee report said.
"The West Virginia Legislature should consider whether these public values compel restrictions upon the degree of alteration in natural landscape and environment," it said.