Arch Coal Inc. has appealed several provisions of a 3,100-acre mountaintop removal coal mining permit, alleging they are too stringent.
The state Division of Environmental Protection issued the permit in early November, after the company said it would lay off 400 miners if the permit wasn't granted before the end of the year.
DEP Director Michael Miano said he and Gov. Cecil Underwood wanted to do whatever they could to prevent the layoffs of miners at Arch Coal subsidiary Hobet Mining Inc.'s Dal-Tex operation.
The 5-square-mile permit - the largest in state history - would allow Hobet Mining to expand Dal-Tex, located near Blair in Logan County, across W.Va. 17 up Pigeonroost Hollow.
The existing Dal-Tex mine has been the subject of citizen complaints and has been cited for blasting and dust violations.
Arch Coal has purchased the property of the area's residents, and paid an undetermined amount of money to settle lawsuits filed by several families who said the mine was a nuisance.
In one recent settlement, the company paid Tommy and Victoria Moore $225,000 to drop a lawsuit the Moores filed over mining damages, according to Logan Circuit Court records.
During public hearings and press interviews, Arch Coal officials have argued the permits should be granted because they agreed to strict limits on blasting and dust at the expanded mine.
"I think that if you will review the permit, you will find that, in many instances, we've exceeded the requirements of the regulations," John McDaniel, Hobet Mining's chief engineer, said during a public hearing in December 1997.
In their appeal, however, Hobet Mining lawyers argue that three additional restrictions on blasting are too stringent.
One restriction would prohibit any blasting within 1,500 feet of an occupied structure, including homes, schools and churches. The second mirrors a long list of blasting restrictions put in place at Dal-Tex's existing mine. The other would limit the size of blasts detonated within 2,000 feet of an occupied structure.
Robert G. McLusky, a Jackson and Kelly lawyer for Hobet Mining, filed an appeal of those provisions Thursday with the state Surface Mine Board.