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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McKINLEY. Mr. Chairman, this amendment will prohibit the EPA from retroactively invalidating permits after they have been issued. On January 13, 2011, the EPA took unprecedented action by retroactively revoking a lawfully issued section 404 permit for the Spruce No. 1 surface mine in Logan County, West Virginia. This permit had been issued 4 years earlier after an extensive 10-year environmental review, including a 1,600-page environmental impact statement in which the EPA fully participated and agreed to all the terms and conditions included in the authorized permit.

But this amendment is intended to address far more than coal mines. If the EPA can retroactively revoke a water permit for this industry, they can do the same to any other manufacturer, refinery, municipality, farm, or other government agency. Imagine an entrepreneur contemplating making an investment requiring an EPA permit but then stopping once they learn that the EPA could first grant the permit, allow the business to proceed, and then invalidate the permit, crushing the investment. Or, imagine a lending institution contemplating whether or not to loan money to someone subject to an EPA regulation. Should any of us be critical of them for being reluctant once they, too, become aware that their loan could go into default once the EPA retroactively revokes the permit on which the loan was granted?

All of us in Congress should be concerned about the chilling effect these actions by the EPA have had and will have if they continue this threat to the creation of jobs by exceeding their statutory authority. At a time when our country is facing economic uncertainty and our families are struggling to make ends meet, I'm appalled by this continued assault on American businesses and families that the EPA has taken. Our job creators need a consistent and predictable regulatory program that will protect jobs we have and create new ones in an environmentally responsible manner. Remember, this amendment is not just for coal mining but rather it addresses virtually every business in America which requires certainty in their regulatory environment.

I urge your support, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. McKINLEY. Mr. Chairman, briefly, let me just underscore here how people try to distract attention away from the argument. We've heard all these other arguments. I've heard the opponents talk about this is the first time or the third time or whatever that is. Let's go back to what the courts have said. Perhaps we need to have on the other side a little bit more education. Because the Federal courts have already struck down that initial reading. Shame on you--anyone--for not having read all this.

The Federal court said the EPA's interpretation of the act is not reasonable. Neither the statute nor the memorandum of agreement between the EPA and the Corps makes any provision for a post-permit veto, and this agency was completely unable to articulate what the practical consequences of its actions would be.

In addition, the court went on to say that the Clean Water Act does not give the EPA the power to render a permit invalid once it has been issued by the Corps.

We ought to put this to rest, codify it, and move on.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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