Judge Chambers motioned for judicial relief of his previous ruling of November 24, 2009, that found deficiencies in the permit notification process by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. This resulted in the setting aside of a previously approved permit for Fola that had been issued in January 2008. But at that same time, Judge Chambers also stayed his November 24 ruling for 60 days—until January 23, 2010—to give Fola an opportunity to appeal or seek other relief.

“We were very pleased by Judge Chambers’ ruling, which was welcome news to our nearly 500 Fola employees and their families, especially during the holiday season,” said Nicholas J. DeIuliis, CONSOL Energy executive vice president and COO. “This ruling will allow us to re-focus our attention on operating the Fola Complex safely, efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.”

Due to the judge’s November ruling, Fola Coal subsequently issued a WARN notice on December 8 to its approximately 500 employees at the Fola operations, that mining operations would cease on January 23, 2010, and layoffs would begin on February 7, 2010. Approximately 104 workers at the Little Eagle mine and 378 at Fola’s Ike Fork mine would have been affected by the layoff.

Fola’s motion, filed on December 17, sought Judge Chambers’ approval to continue operating in six valley fills that were already being affected by surface mining operations under previous approvals issued from the court. These surface mining activities were allowed to continue by Judge Chambers during the litigation process in several orders issued since March 2008. The order by Judge Chambers allows Fola to continue using these six valley fill areas.

“We also want express our gratitude to Governor Joe Manchin and his administration, along with U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Reps. Nick Rahall and Shelley Moore Capito for their efforts to keep Fola operating and to preserve jobs in central West Virginia,” DeIuliis said. “Most especially, we want to thank the employees and management of the Fola Operations for their diligence and support in this effort.”