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.


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  • MTR

    I work on Mountaintop Removal projects...have for 14 years. I've heard environmentalist claims of us bury miles of streams for some time now. They need to come clean and tell the truth about what they classify as a stream. When someone starts talking about a stream most people think of a creek full of fish and aquatic life and people get all emotional when they hear we dump overburden into them...well I'm hear to tell you that is not true!! A dry ditch that only has water running thru it when it rains is considered a stream now!! They leave some important details out in they're argument. Not only did they change what is considered a stream they rewrote the Clean Water Act by taking one simple word out...Navigatable. The Clean Water Act gave the Federal Government juristiction over all Navigatable water ways and left the small ones out. So the Democrats in the House led by Speaker Pelosi rewrote it and gave themselves power over all the waterways in the US...big and small. You remember this the next time you wash your car and the soapy water runs down your driveway because the new CWA considers that a stream! Arch is a good company! They go above and beyond on safety, and environmental issues and they are not killing people like the person insinuated in the above post. The Spruce mine would produce millions in tax revenues and provide hundreds of direct jobs and many more indirect jobs! It's a shame we have so many people giving their opinions about things they no nothing about!! This permit is the first in history to be pulled after being issued! The EPA was never involved with mine permits until the Obama Administration came along. I watched a Hearing on these mine permits Hal Rogers had with EPA chief Lisa Jackson. He asked her when was the last time a coal mine permit had been issued. She replied she wasn't sure. He told her he knew and Said its Hobet 45..do you know what that is? She replied she didn't know. How can we justify funding for the EPA when the chief doesn't even know what is going on? Congress needs to cut funds drastically before they rename it the Employment Prevention Agency!

  • jimmy c

    sorry for all the miners and their families, that will need to find work in another state, like most of us have.

  • Hillboy

    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.”

    Sorry Arch, you clearly lost on the merits.

  • J.R. Skene

    The only reason Metronews cares is because they need as much coal money for sponsorships since they are about to lose a ton of money because of the WVU broadcast rights decision. Haha

  • Chef Camille

    Instead of laying off Air Traffic Contollers- why not half the lackies who get a paycheck from the EPA!

  • Tim C

    The EPA was created by an executive order. Why can't it be undone by one? Also, why doesn't the republican house refuse to fund the EPA? Take away their money and you pull their teeth. How about it Congresswoman Capito? Have some backbone and stand up against this monster and quit blustering with statements to the press.

    • Jay

      That executive order, issued by President Nixon, was ratified by both the U.S. House and Senate. An executive order abolishing the EPA would require the same Congressional ratification. Therefore, it's not as easy as President Obama issuing an executive order to do away with the EPA.

  • Tim

    Wow ! You guys need to cool down. Relax. Coal mining will continue because we need coal. The EPA is wrong and they know it. Change will come in time and the mining will go on. It's just a matter of time.

  • jeremy

    You people should take a drive down there and gaze upon the trash covered streams that you don't want to bury.

  • RHytonen

    processes like MTR and fracking, REDUCE the number of local (and even imported) jobs every year.

    By an order of magnitude, the greatest number of West Virginia jobs are at Wal-Mart. True fact. AND, even those jobs pay so little, half their workers are eligible for poverty level benefits, including food stamps.

    It will only get worse until these corporations are kept in check, as was always the intention. They were never meant to exist for more than one specific project at a time, and if they caused harm to society or the economy (as was esily predicted as early as by Thomas Jefferson,) their charters were supposed to be easily revoked by the state.

    We can easily see they have completely dominated government, and even the courts. Their organization ALEC (as well as most of the individual largest corporations lobbyists) even writes state and national laws!

    As for corporate Finance (Wall Street "Banks,") the whole recession/bailout thing needs no reference. Along with the regulatory capture by Energy and Corporate Farming sectors, and the Military and Prison Industrial complexes, I'd say that adds up to a whole Lot of "harm to society and the economy!" The complete destruction of democracy and of any remaining power to the individual's vote?

    Yes sir, a WHOLE lot of "HARM."

  • RHytonen

    Thank God there is SOME justice.

    Arch Coal is, and has always been, an Arch Villlain, killing more miners and residents of mining areas (and more slowly, with untold suffering) than terrorism.

    And btw statistics show all extractionists do is reduce jobs every yearm and cause boom/bust cycles that have laid waste to WV and KY. Politicians are handsomely paid to contribute to te expensively advertised prpopaganda that energy extraction is good for an area, the country and the planet.

    But the facts are, that the only profits go to the extractionists in their land speculation, and to speculators on the global market, as we pay the higher domestic prices it supports, while our finite resources are stripped and shipped overseas, treating the country itself like a stolen car in a chop shop.

    "Jobs?" They go to out of state transients and

  • wvrefugee

    Capito is a bought and paid for toadie of coal and the GOP! Sit down and shut up!

  • stefan panrell

    Bury more streams forever to create a few jobs for a few years. Sounds like a great idea.

  • cutty77

    I see no responce from Joe. Whats up with that.

  • hangman

    Capito, You can thank Congress for all the veto power, that EPA has, and Congress appears to make sure that EPA has plently of money to spent to enforce the power that congress gave them.