Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Big turnouts are expected at a series of hearings on a federal proposal to ban or at least suspend a streamlined permitting process for appalachian surface coal mines.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues the permits and is holding hearings on the idea in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee on Tuesday.
Sessions are set for Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia on Thursday.
The Corps is reacting to a decision by the Obama Administration in June to try to eliminate the streamlined process as part of a broader effort to curb surface mining in the region.
Either option would force mines to seek individual permits.
Environmentalists and pro-coal forces see the debate as the latest battle over mountaintop mining, a highly efficient method that environmentalists say is too destructive.
(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)