Ohio Valley Coal Company (OVCC) has requested that the Ohio Division of Mines and Reclamations (ODMR) suspend its review of permit D-0360-9 to mine underneath Dysart Woods. The company cited economic reasons for its change in plan. But the company made clear that it planned to re-activate the process at a future date.
A September 24, 1999 letter from OVCC Vice President John Forrelli to the ODMR states (all emphasis in original):
"Ohio Valley still needs this new area for future mining. The immediate approval of the D-0360-9 permit last year would have allowed Ohio Valley to bypass the adverse mining conditions by developing a submain that was originally intended to develop future coal reserves in an adjacent area. However, the long delay in getting the permit, along with changing economic conditions due to coal markets, has forced us to adapt (sic) an interim mining plan to which we are now committed. This new mining plan has delayed our immediate need for approval of the D-0360-9 application.
"Because of the extensive additional work and expense necessary to approve this application, and because Ohio Valley does not immediately need the permit at this time, due to the aforementioned reasons, we request that the Division put the D-0360-9 application "on hold" and maintain it in their files. This will allow Ohio Valley to assess our permitting needs for the future, conserve the resources of both parties, and preserve the extensive work that has already been done to date on this application."
In a letter Oct. 1 from Russ Gibson of the ODMR to Ohio University special council for Dysart Woods David Northrop, Gibson wrote, "While there is no time period stated, we anticipate that it may be as long as two years before they request that we renew our review. However I would also anticipate that it could be a much shorter time period if the coal markets were to improve suddenly."
With phase two of the clean air act increasing the cost for emission credits, higher sulfur coal has become less profitable. But state lawmakers received enormous campaign contributions from coal companies, and have directly given taxpayer dollars to their big polluting contributors. While cutting aid to the poor, Ohio lawmakers have tripled the state's corporate welfare to the coal industry by giving three taxpayer dollars for every ton of coal mined in Ohio. Ohio should instead be subsidizing solar and wind electric installation: a long term, clean investment in modern technology.
Meanwhile OVCC is rumbling closer to Dysart with permit 7 allowing the company to mine 500 acres of the upland watershed of the ancient forest. And the Lands Unsuitable Petition decision main appeal hearing is in February with much preparation and activities gearing up to it. The LUP appeal is critical to ensure the long-term preservation of Dysart Woods. Dysart Defenders will hold a press conference in front of McGuffey Hall from 1 - 1:30 p.m. this Friday.
"This is a major victory for Dysart Defenders," said Kister. "Permit 9 was our top priority and now we can better focus on the Lands Unsuitable Petition appeal hearing that would protect Dysart Woods in perpetuity."