Consol Energy has announced plans to idle coal surface mining operations beginning Dec. 30 in southern West Virginia, citing delays in securing permits related to the Clean Water Act.
The move, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
, is expected put 145 employees out of work at Consol's Miller Creek operations, which includes three surface mines, a preparation plant, and administrative offices near the Kentucky border.
The Pennsylvania-based company, however, plans to continue its underground mining operations, which apparently have not been affected by the permit issue.
According to the Post-Gazette, the Environmental Protection Agency has removed an objection to one of the company’s permits, but Consul says it won't affect the decision to shut down its Miller Creek surface operation.
Consol idled several of its mines earlier this year because of lagging international markets and machinery issues, leading to a net loss of $11 million in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been campaigning in coal country, hoping to cut into union support that went to President Barack Obama in 2008.
As it turns out Consol Energy head J. Brett Harvey told Fox Business last week that he supports Romney, who has talked about easing federal regulations and increasing coal, oil and gas production.
"I think if we have a change in the presidency, we're going to keep our low-cost energy moving forward and use American coal, which is red, white and blue," Harvey said.
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