U.S. Rep Nick J. Rahall, top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released the following statement on today's U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia's ruling, which found that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to retroactively veto Clean Water Act permits previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, as EPA did with the Spruce Mine permit in Logan County, West Virginia in January, 2011.
"Today's decision would open the floodgates to disrupting coal mining in West Virginia and elsewhere by granting the EPA unprecedented and seemingly limitless authority over Clean Water Act 404 permits. The court, in this decision, gives license to the EPA to retroactively veto any Clean Water Act 404 permit "whenever' the Administrator deems necessary, rendering all such permits for any range of industrial or construction activities throughout the country completely meaningless.
"This decision undercuts the Clean Water Act authority vested by Congress in the Corps of Engineers and would upend the traditional balance that has existed between the states and the federal government in the permitting process. Today's ruling makes clear that Congressional action will be needed. I will soon be reintroducing the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, legislation the House approved last year to prevent the EPA from using the guise of clean water as a means to disrupt coal mining as they have now done with respect to the Spruce Mine in Logan County, West Virginia."