MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Bankrupt Patriot Coal will become the first U.S. operator to stop large-scale mountaintop removal mining in Central Appalachia under a historic agreement with three environmental groups.
The deal was struck Thursday and presented to a federal judge in Huntington.
It stems from pollution lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.
St. Louis-based Patriot must resolve litigation during its bankruptcy proceedings.
It will idle some equipment immediately, phasing out large-scale strip mining. Going forward, it agrees to do only small-scale surface mining near planned or existing underground operations.
In exchange, it gets more time to install selenium treatment systems at several mines.
The agreement caps how much coal Patriot can produce from surface mines and requires it to withdraw two valley-fill permit applications.