Score another significant victory for the coalfields of southern West
Virginia and neighboring Southwest Virginia. A U.S. District Court judge for
the District of Columbia has ruled that the federal Environmental Protection
Agency was overreaching its authority under the federal Clean Water Act.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin,
D-W.Va., when he was governor of the Mountain State. The federal court ruled
that the EPA had exceeded its authority in interfering with the West Virginia
Department of Environmental Protection’s process of authorizing mining permits.
The EPA’s actions had blocked mining operations from going forward in West
Virginia and Kentucky, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Manchin’s lawsuit specifically targeted the EPA and its administrator, Lisa
Jackson, who has been at the forefront of the war on coal since she was
appointed by Obama four years ago.
“As governor, I sued the EPA because this bureaucratic agency was taking the
wrong course,” Manchin said. “I remain hopeful that this could court decision
will put us on the path of getting the permits that we need to provide energy
and jobs not just for West Virginia, but for this entire country.”
Manchin correctly argues that the EPA needs to work as an ally, and not an
“adversary” to the Mountain State.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., added the ruling was evidence that the EPA had
acted unlawfully, and overstepped its authority with respect to coal mine
permitting in West Virginia and throughout the Appalachian region.
“I’m glad to see that it’s unlawful,” U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., added.
“Like so many other permits issued under the Clean Water Act, these
conductivity requirements were reckless regulations that served only as a
threat to businesses in the Ninth District. The EPA should abandon its war on
coal and redirect its energies to looking at scientific data that might lead
to solving real problems for people living near mines.”
Although the ruling is a significant and symbolic victory against the Obama
administration-led EPA, there is some question as to whether it will help
stalled mining permits move forward.
“We would like to think so,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal
Association, told the Register-Herald in Beckley. “But if experience is any
measure, the EPA doesn’t pay any attention to court cases. They just adjust
their behavior to do what they want to do instead of what the courts suggest
Raney said he wouldn’t be surprised if the EPA appeals the federal court
“I wish they would take a hint that it’s time to let the state get back to the
business of regulating its industry, because it knows how to do it better than
anyone in Washington or Philadelphia does,” Raney added.
We agree. Supporters of the coal industry will be watching closely to see how
Obama and Jackson respond to this significant ruling.
In an election year where every vote counts, it will be interesting to see if
Obama and Jackson will adhere to the decision of the federal court — or
appeal the ruling.
The smart thing to do would be to honor the federal court’s ruling, and to
allow West Virginia, Virginia and other coal-producing states across
Appalachia to get back to mining coal and creating desperately needed jobs.
But nothing this president, and this EPA, has done over the past four years
would suggest we could expect such a common-sense response.
(c) 2012 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)
Visit the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.) at bdtonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services.