WV Coal Association applauds AG's efforts to appeal Spruce Mine - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

WV Coal Association applauds AG's efforts to appeal Spruce Mine decision

CHARLESTON (December 18, 2013) — The West Virginia Coal Association today issued the following statement regarding West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's friend of the court filing urging the U.S. Supreme Court review the U.S. EPA's retroactive veto of a Clean Water Act permit for Mingo Logan Coal Co.'s Spruce surface mine in Logan County.
"We applaud today's action by A.G. Morrisey on behalf of West Virginia's coal mining families," said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. "Since his taking office earlier this year, A.G. Morrisey has been at the forefront of confronting the out-of-control EPA's assault on our hard working coal miners. Today's announcement of a friend of the court filing is just the latest example of his commitment to restoring the necessary balance between federal and state authority.
"We also applaud his efforts to forge a bipartisan coalition in this fight," Raney continued. "He was joined in today's filing by representatives of 26 other states that share our belief the EPA has far overstepped its authority in this retroactive veto of a three year old permit – long after investment had been made and jobs created on the basis of the promise inherent in such a permit. The breach of this promise – this breach of trust – has created a climate in which it is almost impossible to have the faith necessary to justify any type of investment -- either public or private -- that requires a permit from the federal government.  Today's action, we hope, is the first step in restoring that trust in the actions of our government."
Morrisey, in his accompanying news release, put the issue in perspective.
"At its essence, this lawsuit is about jobs in West Virginia and elsewhere," Morrisey said. "The EPA unlawfully vetoed permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers nearly four years after they were granted, putting hundreds of jobs on the line. But this case is about more than coal mining. It's about the ability of states such as West Virginia to be able to engage and promote economic development, highway construction, and other needed investments without fearing a federal agency will step in years later and halt the project. That is why we strongly support Mingo Logan Coal Co.'s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court."
West Virginia was joined on the brief by a bipartisan group of states including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
"Some of the states who joined are coal producing states, but most are not," Morrisey said. "We are unified in our message that the EPA was out of line in this instance. And if it can happen in West Virginia, who is to say it won't happen again in another state?"
In the brief, the group argues the EPA exceeded its authority under subsection 404(c) of the Clean Water Act when it effectively vetoed a Section 404 permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Spruce surface mine in Logan County. After initially winning the case on appeal in U.S. District Court in 2012, the EPA filed a further appeal in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, which earlier this year threw out the lower court's ruling. Mingo Logan is now seeking to have its appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The impact of the EPA's actions goes far beyond the coal industry. As noted in Morrisey's release, of the 13 permits vetoed by the EPA since the Clean Water Act was implemented, more than half have been public works projects, such as flood prevention and water supply ventures. The brief argues that if the EPA's unlimited veto power is upheld, any public work project that has to receive a 404 permit would be subject to unending uncertainty. The states also argue the EPA could use its newly expanded authority to encroach upon other powers granted to the states in the Clean Water Act.
In addition to the states' brief, a broad range of private and public organizations have announced their support of Mingo Logan Coal Co. and its request to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Those groups include, among others the West Virginia Coal Association, various other state and local organizations such as the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties; those engaged in home and road construction; as well as business and manufacturing groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, National Mining Association, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Pacific Legal Foundation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"This is a broad coalition of people and organizations who clearly see the damage these actions by the EPA – if unchecked – have had and will have on the economy of our individual states and our nation," Raney said. "We stand united against an extremist administration and its EPA that seem determined to push through their radical agenda despite the hurt and pain it has caused and will cause on the people of our nation."
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