Coal: Appeals Court OKs EPA Retroactive Veto of Clean Water Act Permit

"A federal appeals court ruled today that U.S. EPA's 2011 retroactive veto of a major West Virginia mountaintop-removal mining project was legal."

"The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit confirms EPA's contention that the Clean Water Act's Section 404 grants the agency authority to scrap specifications in dredge-and-fill permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Writing for the panel, Judge Karen Henderson said 'the unambiguous language of subsection 404(c) manifests the Congress's intent to confer on EPA a broad veto power extending beyond the permit issuance.' Joining Henderson on the panel were Judges Thomas Griffith and Brett Kavanaugh.

The ruling reverses U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's decision last year that threw out EPA's veto of the permit for Arch Coal Inc.'s Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, W.Va. She accused the agency of relying on 'magical thinking' to block key parts of the 2007 permit four years after it had been issued."

Manuel Quinones reports for Greenwire April 23, 2013.

Source: Greenwire, 04/24/2013