The state Department of Environmental Protection was wrong to grant International Coal Group a permit for a new underground mine in Taylor County, an appeals board ruled Wednesday evening.
The state Surface Mine Board ruled 4-2 to reverse DEP Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer's decision to approve ICG's Tygart No. 1 Mine permit.
A citizens group, Taylor Environmental Advocacy Membership, or TEAM, had challenged the permit. Members are concerned about the proposed longwall mine's possible impacts on area streams and springs and about subsidence damage to their homes.
"We're pleased that the board considered the testimony and decided that the permit application as submitted wasn't sufficient to show that there wouldn't be harm to the state's waters," said Joe Lovett, a lawyer for TEAM. "It's a good ruling for the state's streams."
Lovett said that the board ordered DEP to make ICG submit a new analysis of the mine's potential impacts on water quality and quantity. Then, DEP must study that analysis and write a new report on the mine's potential cumulative hydrologic impacts.
DEP must then use those new studies to decide if the permit should be issued.
Scott Depot-based ICG wants to mine about 3.5 million tons of coal every year at the mine, proposed for just southeast of Grafton.
The mine would employ about 380 workers and cover about 6,000 acres underground next to Tygart Lake and the state park there.
An expert who testified for the citizens predicted that longwall mining subsidence would likely re-channel the flow of area groundwater and surface water. Once the mining stop, the expert projected, the mined-out area would likely fill with that water.
At the same time, the expert said, the water - now laden with toxic iron - would begin to seep out into what was left of the area's streams.