Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

West Virginia State News

March 26, 2012

Reining in the EPA

State coal industry leader calls on Senate to act on H.R. 2018

BLUEFIELD — The ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Washington, D.C., district that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority by revoking Arch Coal’s surface mine permit at Mingo Logan’s Spruce Mine No. 1, has seemingly energized the regional coal industry.

On Sunday, the West Virginia Coal Association issued a press release, praising Jackson’s ruling, and renewing its push for support in the U.S. Senate for H.R. 2018, the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act.” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall co-sponsored H.R. 2018, a bill that passed the House in July 2011, but has not received favorable treatment in the Senate. The bill seeks to restore appropriate balance on EPA’s relationship with other federal agencies, according to the Coal Association’s press release.

“Friday’s ruling by Judge Jackson was absolutely a great ruling for the coal industry, but the situation is getting worse and worse,” Bill Raney, president of the Coal Association said during a telephone interview Sunday afternoon. “It is really significant that a federal judge has recognized that the EPA overstepped the boundaries of its authority and in the process, showed no respect for the other agencies involved or for the process,” Raney said.

“H.R. 2018 would address that kind of agency overreach on the part of the EPA,” Raney said. “Judge Jackson’s ruling represents a tremendous step in reining in the EPA. Her ruling said what we have been saying all along.

“We’ve got to get on a predictable path,” Raney said. “When there is a level of uncertainty like there has been during President Barack Obama’s administration, coal companies are uncertain about investing in a coal mining operation. When a federal agency like the EPA can revoke a coal mining permit that took years to develop, and had cleared all of the regulatory requirements, there’s no certainty. That’s what people need. Certainty,” Raney said. “They can’t make investment decisions without certainty.”

Raney characterized Jackson’s ruling as a great decision for the people of West Virginia. “Friday was a great day for Arch Coal, a great day for the people of Logan County, and a great day for West Virginia,” Raney said. “The ruling provides some much-needed stability for the Clean Water Act Section 404 program.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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