Patriot Coal appeals Chambers' order on permits

By Steve Korris | Oct 8, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. -– Patriot Coal subsidiaries have appealed an order from U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers of Huntington requiring a $45 million letter of credit to guarantee compliance with water quality permits.

Apogee Coal Company and Hobet Mining filed a notice of appeal at the Fourth Circuit in Richmond on Sept. 30.

On Sept. 1, Chambers ordered Apogee Coal to comply with effluent limits for selenium at three locations by March 1, 2013.

Apogee Coal must install a treatment system its engineers recommended, he wrote.

He ordered Hobet Mining to comply with selenium limits by May 1, 2013.

He held Apogee Coal in contempt, finding it has not exercised reasonable diligence to comply with a consent decree he signed last year.

The decree apparently resolved three suits that Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Sierra Club filed from 2007 to 2009.

Apogee Coal moved to modify the decree this February, and the nature groups moved for contempt in April.

After a hearing in August, Chambers scolded Apogee Coal and Hobet Mining for failing to follow recommendations of their experts.

He ordered Hobet Mining to submit a treatment plan by Oct. 1.

He demanded a $45 million letter of credit, and the companies produced one from Bank of America on Sept. 22.

Then, they appealed his denial of the motion to modify the decree, his contempt finding, and orders he signed prior to the consent decree.

Derek Teaney and Joseph Lovett, of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, represent the nature groups. So does James Hecker, of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in Washington.

Blair Gardner, Jill McIntyre, Robert McLusky, Thomas Hurney, Whitney Clegg and Douglas Crouse, all of Jackson Kelly in Charleston, represent Apogee Coal and Hobet Mining.

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