Patriot Coal Co., one of the largest coal companies operating in Central Appalachia, today announced it will phase out mountaintop removal mining coal mining over the next several years, saying its decision is in the “best interests of the company and the communities where it operates.”
The announcement is the result of an agreement between Patriot and environmental and community groups who have won a series of legal victories to force Patriot to clean up selenium pollution from its coal mines.
Appalachian Voices sends a hearty congratulations to Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy — and especially to Joe Lovett and Appalachian Mountain Advocates — for this unprecedented victory, which is the result of more than a decade of hard work and brilliant legal strategy.
Credit is also due to Patriot’s President and CEO Ben Hatfield for acknowledging the significant impact that mountaintop removal mines have on nearby communities and the environment.
Despite dozens of scientific studies demonstrating severe environmental and health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, this is the first time a major operator of mountaintop removal mines has acknowledged those impacts.
Hatfield told the court: “Patriot Coal recognizes that our mining operations impact the communities in which we operate in significant ways, and we are committed to maximizing the benefits of this agreement for our stakeholders, including our employees and neighbors. We believe the proposed settlement will result in a reduction of our environmental footprint.”
We hope other coal company CEOs will follow Hatfield’s leadership.
See these links for more details about today’s settlement:
From the Charleston Gazette: “Patriot to phase out mountaintop removal”
Coal Tattoo post by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette: “CEO Ben Hatfield: Ending mountaintop removal ‘is consistent with Patriot Coal’s business plan’”
Blog post from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign director, Mary Anne Hitt
Press release from Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Press release from Ohio Valley Environmental Council
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy