The governor should work with state agencies "to assure rigorous and consistent enforcement of existing environmental regulatory requirements applicable to mountaintop removal operations."
These efforts should focus on more strict enforcement of water quality rules and the approximate original contour mine land reclamation standard.
The only major change in the task force report since drafts were issued two weeks ago was a call for an expansion of rules to tighten post-mining land use regulations.
Draft reports had suggested that the state should not allow mountaintop removal mines to be reclaimed as "fish and wildlife habitat," the post-mining land use currently most popular with coal operators.
Drafts had also called for a more rigorous review of mines that propose to reclaim the flattened land for industrial and commercial uses.
Larry George, chairman of the panel's economic committee, said his group decided to expand those recommendations to apply to all surface mines - not just mountaintop removal mines that receive an approximate original contour variance to allow land to be flattened.
If adopted by a change in state mining regulations, the proposal would mean coal companies couldn't get around the AOC rule, or tough requirements to show flattened land is needed for development. It would amount to a major tightening of surface mine permitting, George said.
"We decided to take our recommendation and make it applicable across the board," said George, a former top state mine regulator who now represents coal companies as a private lawyer.
The task force recommendations were adopted with only one member voting against them.
John McFerrin, an activist with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, submitted a written statement to explain his vote. McFerrin is currently hospitalized and couldn't attend Wednesday's meeting.
McFerrin said he could not support any report which did not call for a ban on mountaintop removal.
"There is much in the report with which I agree," said McFerrin, the lone environmental group representative on the task force. "On balance, however, there is nothing to persuade me that the practice should continue."
The task force report was to be submitted to Underwood today. A spokesman has said the governor wants a week to review it before commenting on it.