The Post belabored unfounded accusations that the administration improperly favors Appalachian coal mining ["Appalachia Is Paying Price for White House Rule Change," front page, Aug. 17] while finding little space to inform readers of the economic and judicial factors that are far more relevant to the resurgence of the region's coal industry or to tell them about the environmental progress the industry has made.

The demand for electric power, not the White House, is the decisive factor that favors coal as an affordable and reliable fuel.

A recent Standard & Poor's study shows that the regulatory bottlenecks to greater coal production belittled in the story are significant obstacles to meeting rising demand. The article did not mention that a federal appeals court upheld current procedures as legal.

The article ascribed sinister motives to a rule change that merely adopted a long-standing definition used by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure consistency with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Obviously, supplying Americans with low-cost electricity from coal requires earth to be disturbed. But federal law requires that mined land be restored to a productive state; to date, more than 2 million acres nationwide have been reclaimed.

JACK GERARD

President and Chief Executive

National Mining Association

Washington

*

After spending a year working with the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W. Va., I fell in love with the mountains and people of West Virginia and wished that the state could be encircled with a fence and labeled a national monument to be preserved for its beauty and culture.

"Mountaintop removal" mining is rape of the mountains and of the people who have cherished them over the years. Mining hasn't even brought prosperity to West Virginians. Only a few get rich on the coal economy. A visit to a former mining town shows the economic devastation that ensues when a mine closes: The town is left with a boarded-up downtown and nothing but unemployment.

The coal economy is unsustainable for the people of West Virginia. Now coal companies are taking away West Virginia's treasure -- the beauty of its mountains, streams, fish and wildlife -- where its sustainable economic future could lie.

TERESA CARUTHERS

Baltimore