Sierra Club Seeks To Join Environmental Lawsuit Against Massey

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Sierra Club said Monday it hopes to join a federal government lawsuit that accuses Massey Energy of thousands of Clean Water Act violations.

"Massey has both a legal and moral obligation to protect streams and drinking water supplies in the communities where it operates," said Ed Hopkins, director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "Unfortunately the company has shown time and again that it is unwilling to take its obligations seriously."

The national organization hopes to secure court approval to join a trio of environmental groups already involved in the case. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Coal River Mountain Watch successfully petitioned to join the case in June.

"The fact the Sierra Club joined really doesn't surprise us," Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said. "We're in discussions with the EPA on trying to settle this issue and hope a settlement can be reached."

The Richmond, Va.-based coal company maintains the lawsuit, which was filed in May on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, inflates the number of alleged violations. Massey recently estimated it faces fines ranging from $1.5 million to $7 million.

Massey, the nation's fourth-largest coal company by revenue, operates 19 mining complexes in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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