Mrs. CAPITO. I rise today to support the jobs of hundreds of hardworking coal miners in West Virginia and to highlight the misguided actions of the EPA in objecting to permits for coal mining activity.
On April 1, 2010, the EPA issued guidance under the Clean Water Act that bypasses the normal process for promulgating water quality standards. It nullifies the water quality standards put into place by our State regulators and our State legislatures. In other words, the EPA has taken over the States' prerogative on water quality.
Despite a 2011 Federal court decision that rejected the EPA's interpretation of its authority, the regulatory permitting process for surface mining has essentially been halted in the Appalachian region. Hundreds of permits will expire within the next 18 months in West Virginia alone. Failure to act on these permits will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in West Virginia, and just recently we have experienced a loss of 1,000 coal mining jobs.
The EPA should exercise its permitting and regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act in a manner that considers the impacts on jobs and the economy in West Virginia and other coal mining States.