Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 14, 2013

Rahall reintroduces legislation aimed at protecting coal, limiting the EPA’s overreach


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WASHINGTOIN — U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., the top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is reintroducing legislation today that would prevent the EPA’s overreach in the Clean Water Act permitting process. Rahall said the EPA’s actions are threatening the future of coal mining jobs and communities throughout Appalachia.  He was joined by U.S. Rep, John Mica, R-Fla., in introducing the bipartisan bill.

“In recent years, the EPA has taken direct aim at the Appalachia coalfields using and abusing seemingly every regulatory tool in their arsenal to stymie, disrupt and prevent coal mining,” Rahall said. “But perhaps their most brazen assault on coal miner’s jobs occurred in January 2011, when the agency retroactively vetoed a previously issued Clean Water Act 404 permit for the Spruce Mine in Logan County. Last month’s decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals affirming EPA’s use of this authority now opens the door for the agency to shut down a coal mine or stop all manner of industrial activity with an unrestricted flick of their veto pen.  I do not believe that it was ever the intent of Congress to vest such sweeping power in the EPA, and if our intent was too vague when the statute was written decades ago, we must make it crystal clear today.”

The “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2013” would place limits on EPA’s ability to veto dredge and fill permits previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, as the EPA did with the Spruce Mine permit in Logan County.