Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Sept. 23, 2020
Expiration date: 10/23/2020

September 23, 2020

The District Commander received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:

Cary Stallard, Engineer/Agent
Norton Coal Company, LLC
1073 Riverview Street
Grundy, Virginia 24614

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located in an unnamed tributary of Poplar Creek, a tributary to the Levisa Fork, Big Sandy River, at Harman, Buchanan County, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to fill approximately 2,180 linear feet of stream bed in support of the development, operation and reclamation of the Convict East Surface Mine.  Specifically, this site would allow permanent placement of approximately 404 cubic yards of excess spoil to fills HF-A and HF-C and construction of sediment control ponds (A and B).  The development and operation of the proposed mine would extract approximately 1.7 million tons of metallurgical coal from the Clintwood, Eagle, Blair, and Glamorgan coal seams. 

A previous mine site configuration was permitted by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s, Division of Mined Land Reclamation (VDMME-DMLR) under Permit Number 1102030, Application Number 1004501 on January 8, 2009 however due to poor coal market economics, that operation was never activated.  Norton Coal has redesigned the project and it is currently being evaluated by VDMME-DMLR under Application Number 1004501.

The applicant has included a range of alternatives for consideration of avoidance and minimization of potential anticipated impacts to the aquatic resources.   The Norfolk District’s Unified Stream Methodology System is being utilized to determine compensatory mitigation offsets to permanent impacts to 2,180 linear feet of stream.  The applicant proposes offset of planned stream impacts through permittee-responsible, in-kind, off-site compensatory mitigation.  A conceptual, compensatory mitigation plan describing stream restoration efforts utilizing natural stream design techniques is part of the application under review.

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.

AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION:  The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.  The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act). 

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity.  Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal.  To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above.  Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.  Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing.  The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

Preliminary review indicates that:  (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, there may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table is attached for review and comment by Fish and Wildlife Service; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal.  Additional information might change any of these findings. 

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers, Western VA Regulatory Section, Virginia Highlands Field Office, Post Office Box 1295, Abingdon, VA 24212, and should be received by the close of business on October 23, 2020.

AVAILABILITY OF APPLICATION:  You may obtain an electronic copy of the applicant’s proposed action by visiting the Virginia Marine Resource Commission’s Habitat Management Permits and Application webpage ( ) and search for Joint Permit Application Number 20200453.  Note these documents are in portable document format; pdf.

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY:  Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Claire Trent by phone 276-206-8347 or by email at