VICKI SMITHMORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) â¿¿ Bankrupt Patriot Coal will become the first U.S. operator to stop large-scale mountaintop removal mining in Central Appalachia under a historic agreement with three environmental groups. The deal was struck Thursday and presented to a federal judge. It comes as part of pollution lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. St. Louis-based Patriot must resolve litigation during its bankruptcy proceedings. It will idle some equipment immediately, phasing out large-scale strip mining. Going forward, it agrees to do only small-scale surface mining near planned or existing underground operations. The agreement caps how much coal Patriot can produce from surface mines.