Publish Time: nowMORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Mountaintop removal mining activists said Wednesday that acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is behaving like a lobbyist for organizing a rally in which he and other politicians plan to criticize the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Tomblin has invited the public to join him, other politicians and industry officials for a rally that he said is designed to show the agency how coal is beneficial to the lives of West Virginians and others across the country. It's set for 2 p.m. today at the state Capitol in Charleston.
The rally is in response to the EPA's veto last week of a crucial permit for Arch Coal Inc.'s planned Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County. The agency said the permit would cause irreparable environmental damage and threaten the health of nearby communities.
The 2,300-acre mine would have been the state's largest mountaintop removal operation. Environmental groups have fought for years to stop it.
Several longtime activists accused Tomblin during a Wednesday conference call on the ruling of shilling for the industry and ignoring the concerns of communities near the large strip mines.
"What acting Governor Tomblin is doing Thursday is not in keeping with the needs of the people of West Virginia," said Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch. "He is acting as a coal lobbyist and not as a governor should."
Tomblin's spokeswoman, Jacqueline Proctor, defended the event.