A Washington, D.C. federal appeals court says the federal EPA has the power to veto a Clean Water Act permit after it’s been awarded.
The decision came down Tuesday in the longstanding case involving Arch Coal and its Spruce No. 1 mountaintop removal mining project in Logan County.
The project, originally proposed in 1998, was eventually permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 but has faced a long legal battle before and since. The EPA announced its post-permit veto Jan. 2011. The company fought the move and won in U.S. District Court last year.
The operation was originally supposed to create hundreds of jobs but has been scaled back during the process. At issue is the proposed burying of miles of streams during the mountaintop removal/valley fill process.
The controversy has been at the heart of the ongoing mountaintop removal argument and the power of the EPA.
Arch Coal spokeswoman Kim Link told MetroNews Tuesday:
“We’re disappointed in the decision, which was related to the procedural aspects of the proceeding. The case will now go back to the district court for a decision on the merits.”
West Virginia Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito criticized the ruling in a prepared statement:
“Today’s federal appeals court ruling further highlights what Congress is up against in President Obama’s war on coal. Unfortunately, the decision was the wrong one and will deeply affect hardworking West Virginians.
Capito went on to say the ruling will cost hundreds of jobs.