Federal court hears appeal on valley fills

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal appeals court is reviewing a case involving valley fill permits at mountaintop removal coal mines.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has scheduled a hearing Tuesday on an appeal of a federal judge's 2007 ruling that rescinded five valley fill permits in West Virginia.

In mountaintop mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams and the leftover rock and dirt is dumped into valleys, burying streams.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers in Huntington, W.Va., ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately determine environmental damage prior to issuing the permits.

The corps maintains that more extensive reviews aren't necessary.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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