Require companies that propose economic development for AOC variance permits to submit plans that demonstrate the viability and need for the planned project.
Haden would have to approve the settlement. Either side would be able to go back to the judge if they thought provisions of the deal were being violated.
Mountaintop removal blasts off entire hilltops to reach valuable low-sulfur coal seams underneath. Leftover rock and earth are dumped into nearby valleys, burying streams.
In July 1998, the conservancy and a group of coalfield citizens filed a federal court lawsuit to try to curb the practice.
In December, the parties settled a part of the lawsuit which alleged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers illegally approved valley fills under the "dredge and fill" provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. Under that settlement, federal regulators are conducting a two-year environmental impact statement to figure out if more regulation of mountaintop removal is needed.
On Friday, Haden postponed a trial on the other issues. The trial, originally scheduled to start today, was put off until Aug. 2.
Most of the issues are expected to be resolved by the settlement, lawyers told Haden during a hearing Friday afternoon.
The only unresolved issue is an allegation by the conservancy that valley fills violate a rule that prohibits mining within 100 feet of streams.
Lawyers said Friday they hoped Haden would decide that issue based on written court briefs, not on a trial.
To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., call 348-1702 or e-mail kw...@wvgazette.com.