Guidelines aimed at protecting endangered bat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Interior Department has announced guidelines for coal mining companies whose operations could impact the endangered Indiana bat.

The Indiana bat's habitat stretches through 13 states with coal mining operations from the East to the Midwest. Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Iowa.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday the collaborative effort will assist companies in complying with the Endangered Species Act. The guidelines offer coal mining applicants and regulatory agencies a set of options while developing mining permits within the bat's habitat area.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton says the guidelines create a standard review process that will speed up response time.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.