But EPA said in its recent letter that DEP has not included adequate pollution monitoring or discharge limits in its proposed water quality permit for the operation. EPA cites the growing body of scientific literature that documents "the adverse water quality, environmental, and public health effects of Appalachian surface coal mining."
"The EPA's review of the mining operator's proposal indicates that feasible, cost effective steps are available to be incorporated into the operation to avoid and minimize the significant, adverse environmental and water quality impacts associated with the Buffalo Mountain mine," EPA said. "Unlike Buffalo Mountain's mine design, modern, technically feasible, and cost-effective mining practices are being proposed and incorporated by many mining companies into their mine designs with the intent to significantly reduce the adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem."
On Wednesday, the Federal Highway Administration and the state Division of Highways announced they would conduct an additional study of the potential environmental impacts of the highway, with a focus on the Buffalo Mountain mining project.
EPA said that study "will provide a helpful vehicle for agencies to work together to identify improvements in the mine design to reduce potential adverse impacts to water quality, public health and the environment."
CONSOL officials offered no immediate response to the EPA letter.
Tom Clarke, director of DEP's Division of Mining and Reclamation, said his office is reviewing the EPA's letter.
"We'll certainly look at the letter and determine how to respond," Clarke said. "We've had some constructive discussions with them."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.