Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this afternoon announced the State of West Virginia filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit supporting Mingo Logan Coal Co. in its ongoing legal battle against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The battle concerns the EPA's attempt to revoke Mingo Logan's Clean Water Act Section 404 permit to mine the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County.
"Hundreds of miners are out of work because of the unjustified attacks on West Virginia coal miners and their families," Gov. Tomblin said. "I will not back down until the federal EPA finally acknowledges-once and for all-that it's overstepping its bounds."
The Army Corps of Engineers issued the Spruce permit in 2007. The EPA vetoed the permit almost three years later - even though the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had certified that Mingo Logan's operations complied with state water quality standards and applicable mining regulations.
On March 23, 2012, a federal trial court in Washington, D.C. reversed the EPA's veto of the Spruce permit, siding with Mingo Logan and the State of West Virginia. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a lengthy written decision, criticized the EPA's actions and concluded that it lacked the statutory authority to revoke the Spruce permit.
The EPA has appealed Judge Jackson's decision, and now, under the leadership of Gov. Tomblin, the State of West Virginia is once again lending its support to Mingo Logan with today's filing. The State's "friend of the court" brief demonstrates, among other things, that the EPA's actions in vetoing the Spruce permit undermines the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in its role as the primary regulator of mining activities and protector of the State's waters.