Thursday, October 07, 2010

W.Va. sues EPA to protect mountaintop removal

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday the state Department of Environmental Protection had filed suit in federal court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try and stop EPA's crackdown on mountaintop removal coal mining. Manchin, a Democrat who is running for the Senate seat formerly held by Robert Byrd, "said the suit is aimed at stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 'attempts to destroy the coal-mining industry and our way of life,'" Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette reports.

"The state has worked as hard as it could to resolve these issues with EPA without resorting to litigation," Manchin told reporters. "It's a shame when you have to take action against your own government, but sometimes it has to be done." The 52-page lawsuit "targets EPA's tougher reviews of Clean Water Act permits for mining operations and the federal agency's new water quality guidance aimed at reducing pollution from coal-mining sites," Ward writes. The lawsuit alleges EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson wrongly implemented the new policies without first seeking necessary public comment.

"With these actions, EPA and the Corps have demonstrated a brazen disrespect for the notice-and-comment rule making that forms the backbone of proper regulatory action by giving the states and interested parties an opportunity to comment upon proposed rules before implementation," the suit states. EPA responded in a statement that state officials "have not engaged in a meaningful discussion of sustainable mining practices that will create jobs while protecting the waters that Appalachian communities depend on for drinking, swimming and fishing." (Read more)

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