A state appeals court yesterday authorized a mining company to dig for coal beneath Dysart Woods, an old-growth forest in Belmont County.
The ruling by a panel of the Seventh District Court of Appeals permits the Ohio Valley Coal Co. to mine beneath the stand of 400-year-old trees.
The Buckeye Forest Council, Dysart Defenders and Chad Kister wanted the appeals court to overturn a 2004 ruling by state officials to grant a mining permit to Ohio Valley.
The court ruled that the decision of the Ohio Reclamation Commission to allow the mining, about 80 miles east of Columbus, was “not arbitrary and capricious.”
The environmentalists say the mining would undercut the groundwater that nourishes the woods, owned by Ohio University.
Robert E. Murray, chairman of Ohio Valley’s parent company, Murray Energy Corp., said in a news release that he hopes the ruling will end a “vain” nineyear battle opposing mining.
“We have studied the effects of mining on Dysart Woods for 20 years. ”¦ our mining will not harm the woods,” Murray said.
The Buckeye Forest Council will study whether to file an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, said its executive director, Brandi Whetstone. OU did not contest the state decision to permit mining under Dysart Woods.
Information from: www.dispatch.com