More than 100 coal miners, industry leaders and elected officials attended last night’s Camp Branch surface mine permit hearing.
The purpose of the hearing, which was conducted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, was so that the WVDEP could receive comments on the permit application.
The Camp Branch surface mine is owned by Aracoma Coal in Logan County.
West Virginia Senator Art Kirkendoll was the first speaker at the public hearing. He said if there was ever a surface mine permit that makes sense, it’s the Camp Branch permit.
“On record, the last time we was here regarding Camp Branch, it is one of the best kept areas and those guys do a tremendous job. Inspectors say they find very few violations,” Kirkendoll said. “It’s just a great-ran mine.”
Kirkendoll has been fighting for coal for years. Kirkendoll was attended a Coal Forum at Walker Machinery in Belle on Wednesday morning and has partnered with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to better educate officials and the public around the country about the benefits of coal.
“I’m totally for this permit,” Kirkendoll said. “I’m all for mining coal when it’s done responsibly and environmentally sound. I always have been. I hope everything works out for this permit.”
Logan County Delegate Rupert “Rupie” Phillips was the second speaker of the night. He said he is very supportive of the Camp Branch permit.
“We’ve got to have it,” Delegate Phillips said.
Mingo County Delegate Justin Marcum said the state needs jobs and the Camp Branch permit will bring jobs to the coalfields.
“We need jobs and this is one way to keep jobs in southern West Virginia,” Delegate Marcum said.
All three received loud ovations for their comments.
To contact Staff Writer Michael Browning, call 304-752-6950, extension 309, or email him at email@example.com.