"We don't comment publicly," said Hoops, whose company lists an office in Milton on records with the state Secretary of State's Office.
The DEP held Thursday night's meeting not as a formal public hearing, but as an "informal conference." In such a meeting, agency officials are on hand with maps and permit records, and answer questions about a company's proposal. Residents provide official comments on the proposal, but those are heard off in a corner by a DEP official who sits at a table with a microphone and a notebook.
The format, adopted several years ago for strip-mining permit meetings, was intended to defuse loud and angry meetings where coal miners turned out in huge numbers to respond to residents who opposed new mountaintop removal permits. It avoids scenes where one side shouts or boos when opposing speakers are trying to have their say. However, it also prohibits residents from hearing their neighbors' official comments to the DEP -- which are supposed to be public and on the record.
During Thursday's meeting, some residents questioned the DEP about blasting at the existing Rush Creek mines, which was blamed for a huge "boom" that was heard throughout the Kanawha Valley in late February.
DEP officials said previous problems at the site led them to put more restrictions on the blasting at the company's existing operation. Agency officials have asked Revelation to add those restrictions to the blasting plans for the proposed amendment. The company has yet to respond to that request, DEP officials said.
Others at the meeting also worried that some portions of the amended permit might be visible from nearby Kanawha State Forest. DEP officials said they have computer software that allows them to predict visual impacts from mining but that they haven't yet used it to consider the Revelation amendment's possible effects.
In March 2000, Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, sold more than 4,000 acres of land on Rush Creek to longtime Charleston businessman Tom L. Scholl, who originally obtained permits for mining in the area.
A legal ad published concerning the new Revelation permit amendment says McCabe's McCabe Land Co. owns some of the land where the new mining will occur and some land located within 100 feet of the new mining.
McCabe said Friday that he wasn't familiar with the mining proposal.
"We've got some land beside it and we jointly own some land there with Tom Scholl, but I'm not aware that it's part of any permit," McCabe said. "I've had no contact with [the] DEP and I'm not familiar with the details of that transaction at all."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.