(09/05/2006)
DEP Secretary Stephanie Timmermeyer says an agency report shows there is a major spike in prospect mining permits and oil and gas permits in WV.

That's good for the state's economy.

Prospect permits for coal mining in West Virginia have nearly doubled since 2003, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Timmermeyer said "When you look toward the rest of the report, to the air quality indicators and the water quality indicators, you hope that you don't see an increase in impairment just because there's been an increase in these activities."

The DEP granted 96 prospect coal permits in 2003, 124 in 2004 and 170 in 205.

Air pollution particulate levels remain at or above national air quality standards in 12 of the 16 communities where they were measured, including Martinsburg, Follansbee and South Charleston.

A study found that West Virginia released 103 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2001, a 115 percent increase from 1960, when it produced 48 million metric tons.

"The Carbon Boom" report found that the state's emissions from coal jumped 85 percent during that time, while oil emissions rose 14 percent.

West Virginia ranked seventh in the country for coal emissions, and 20th for overall carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal accounted for 78 percent of the state's greenhouse gas production.

The DEP report also found that just over half of West Virginia's 32,278 miles of streams are deemed in good condition, based on their ability to sustain aquatic life.

About 20 percent are considered highly impaired.

Mountaintop removal, which has filled nearly 1000 miles of WV streams, was not directly evaluated.

West Virginia still faces more than $1 billion worth of abandoned mines to reclaim, while more than 1,200 tank leaks remain on the to-do list.


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