Mountaintop removal is a highly efficient but highly destructive form of strip mining in which operators blast away the tops of the mountain to expose multiple seams of coal. The resulting debris is dumped into valleys below, often burying small streams.
Steele said it doesn't matter to him which agency pursues justice on his behalf.
"The thing I want is for the State Police to be accountable for their actions,'' he said.
Steele was released from the Western Regional Jail on Wednesday afternoon, after lawyers and supporters raised bail.
The environmental groups supporting Steele, including CREDO Action and the Energy Action Coalition, also want bail reductions for the other protesters. Although most face misdemeanor trespassing charges, they're being held on $25,000 property bonds.
"Setting $25,000 bail for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience is not serving justice. It is serving the coal industry,'' said Josh Nelson of CREDO Action.
Lincoln County Magistrate Mona Snodgrass, who set the bail amounts, is not working this week and didn't immediately respond to a message left at her home. A fellow magistrate, however, told the Charleston Gazette that bail amounts are left to the courts' discretion.
"The law supports reasons why we can set the bail how we do,'' Magistrate Sophia Tully told the newspaper.