HAZARD, Ky. (AP) - A pair of congressmen took an aerial tour of mountaintop mining sites on Friday before meeting residents of the central Appalachian coalfields.
U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, (D-Wash.) twice flew over the mining sites in West Virginia and Kentucky, squeezing a meeting with Appalachian residents in between.
Chandler, whose district is based in central Kentucky, called the visit a "fact-finding trip."
The congressmen were accompanied by representatives from the Office of Surface Mining, as well as Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a group that opposes mountaintop removal, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on its web site.
Dicks chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing environmental matters, which gives him control of the budget of the Office of Surface Mining. On what what his first trip over the area, he said he was struck by how large some of the mining sites were.
Dicks said he will look at whether the OSM is doing its job adequately, and whether it has the money and staff to do its job.