Could West Virginia’s coal politics become even more absurd? Apparently, yes. Ken Ward Jr. reports in the Charleston Gazette that a formerly secret 48-page engineering report by Morgan Worldwide [PDF], confirms that Arch Coal’s subsidiary Mingo Logan Coal Co. could have cut its stream damage from the Spruce Mine project in half – meeting the standards set by the EPA under the Clean Water Act. And at what cost for a company which earned $700 million last year? For a mere 55 cents per ton, or around 1 percent of the expected per-ton sales price, Arch could have used existing technologies to avoid polluting and potentially burying 5 more miles of streams.
West Virginia Coal
Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE), the 4th largest coal producer in the country is running political-style attacks in West Virginia claiming that “tree hugging extremists and self-serving politicians” are killing jobs, while the coal industry is “fighting hard for Appalachian jobs” and “what’s right.”
I am assuming that when Massey talks about fighting for Appalachian jobs they aren’t referring to the fact that earlier in 2009 they cut employee pay by 6% and then recently increased the performance bonus for Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, by $600,000.
And I think it’s also safe to assume that when Massey talks about fighting for “what’s right” they aren’t talking about the major environmental violations over the years culminating in a record $20 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA stated that Massey had violated its Clean Water Act permits “… more than 4,500 times between January 2000 and December 2006.”