On Tuesday 5 News reported a federal appeals court ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had the legal authority to veto a water pollution permit for one of our state's largest mountaintop removal coal mines years after it was issued.
On Wednesday the Bill Raney, the president of the West Virginia Coal Association, equated that decision to the DMV showing at someone's house and taking their license even though they did nothing wrong.
Tuesday's ruling stems from a case involving Arch Coal and it's Spruce No.1 mountaintop removal mining project in Logan County.
Raney said the decision on Tuesday was disappointing and concerning. He said that's because there's been no consistency from the EPA.
Raney told 5 News he worries this decision gives the EPA the authority to "monkey around" with permits that have already been issued. He believes that could put hundreds, if not thousands, of folks out of a job.
"It's a clear threat," Raney said. "Now how often will they exercise it? I don't know, but Congress needs to fix this because what they have done is absolutely cut the legs out from other regulatory agencies."
Raney also added ruling could stop other companies from mining in the Mountain State, and he worries what it will mean for our state's economy.
Our local lawmakers have also blasted the decision.
The statements below are what they had to say.
Sen. Joe Manchin:
"Today's court decision is yet another example of bureaucracy at its worst: One agency grants a permit, another agency takes it away and
business suffers in the end. The federal government should be an ally, not an adversary, in helping to strike a balance between protecting the environment and creating good American jobs."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller:
"We need to make sure that workers and businesses have the certainty to do their jobs and that when the federal government decides for or against issuing a permit, workers and businesses know it's the final decision. This ruling leaves open the question of whether the EPA was fair to all the players involved in this case, and it even further prolongs the uncertainty. West Virginians deserve better.
Congressman David McKinley:
"(Tuesday's) ruling would grant EPA staggering authority to revoke clean water permits after they have already been issued, causing enormous uncertainty, not only in coal mining but all industry. This decision reinforces the need for Congress to step in."
Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito:
"(Tuesday's) federal appeals court ruling further highlights what Congress is up against in President Obama's war on coal. Unfortunately, the decision was the wrong one and will deeply affect hardworking West Virginians. The Environmental Protection Agency has continued to overstep its bounds in its efforts to implement the president's anti-energy policies. Not only will this ruling cost West Virginians hundreds of jobs, but it begs the question: Who is safe? If the EPA can take back a permit from a coal mine in West Virginia, they can do the same to any business in America. I will continue to fight tooth and nail with this administration on its job-killing policies and I condemn the court's devastatingly misguided decision."
Congressman Nick Rahall:
"(Tuesday's) decision would open the floodgates to disrupting coal mining in West Virginia and elsewhere by granting the EPA unprecedented and seemingly limitless authority over Clean Water Act 404 permits. The court, in this decision, gives license to the EPA to retroactively veto any Clean Water Act 404 permit 'whenever' the Administrator deems necessary, rendering all such permits for any range of industrial or construction activities throughout the country completely meaningless. This decision undercuts the Clean Water Act authority vested by Congress in the Corps of Engineers and would upend the traditional balance that has existed between the states and the federal government in the permitting process. (Tuesday's) ruling makes clear that Congressional action will be needed."
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