Company wants to mine 90,000 tons of coal annually at idled mine

An idled King County, Washington, coal mine would again be productive under a plan by Pacific Coast Coal Co., Kallanish Energy learns.

Pacific Coast Coal seeks to mine 85,000 to 90,000 tons of coal per year over six years, from roughly 30 acres just outside Black Diamond, Wash., bringing the mine back into operation for the first time in 18 years, the Seattle Times newspaper reported.

The company wants to restart mining at the John Henry Mine. The proposal is still under review, although federal regulators in September found coal mining as proposed at the facility would have no significant impact on the environment.

Federal officials are reviewing public comments; the next step could range from additional environmental review to granting the permit, the Times reported.

Washington is one of only two states in the U.S. that delegates regulation of mining to the federal government (Tennessee is the other), the Times reported.

But the project has raised local opposition about the greenhouse-gas emissions created by burning the coal, as well as water pollution and noise.

King County executive Dow Constantine has vowed to work with state agencies and Washington’s congressional delegation, as well as the courts if need be, to stop the project, the Times reported.

“What year is it?” Constantine said in an interview with the Times. “I don’t think anybody should be mining coal here or anywhere else in this day and age.”

Burning coal from the mine would emit as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year as driving 51,500 cars, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Coal is the dirtiest and most polluting fossil-fuel energy source, with as much as twice the greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of energy produced as any other fossil fuel — contributing to global warming, the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review noted in a letter opposing the project.