CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia is one of 27 states filing a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court for a case focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s retroactive veto of a permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine in Logan County.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he thinks the High Court should fully review the case because of its widespread implications.  “This lawsuit is about jobs in West Virginia and elsewhere,” said Morrisey.

In the brief, the states argued the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act when, in 2011, the agency vetoed the 404 permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had issued for the Spruce surface mine project back in 2007.

Arch Coal sued and, last year, a federal judge threw out the EPA’s veto.  However, in April of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia upheld the EPA’s authority.  The company is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Morrisey said his office had to get involved.

“We have been working collaboratively with a lot of other states and organizations in order to make a very important point before the U.S. Supreme Court.  There needs to be some finality in the permit approval process,” he told MetroNews of the filing.

If the EPA’s seemingly unlimited veto power is upheld, Morrisey said any projects, including public works projects, that fall under the Clean Water Act could be subjected to “unending uncertainty.”

“I’m going to stop at nothing to protect West Virginia jobs and it’s important that we stop the EPA because they’ll have a chilling effect on investment in West Virginia if they get away with this case,” said Morrisey.

The other states involved are Wyoming, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, Texas, South Dakota, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Nevada, Montana, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona and Alabama.

Several additional organizations are supporting calls for the Spruce Mine case to be heard including the National League of Cities, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

At this point, there are no indications on if the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the appeal in the New Year.

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  • Aaron

    This issue is not about jobs at the Spruce mine in Logan County or the future of West Virginia coal mining, it is about the authority of the any level of government and their ability to retroactively revoke any permit and/or business license that has been issued.

    If this decision stands than no permit, license or other government issued right to do business is safe, right down to the city level. The consequences of the federal government having that much authority is unfathomable.

    Regardless of your thoughts on coal, our government having that amount of authority should scare the living beJesus out of you. If it does not, something is wrong with your thought process.

    • WhgFeeling

      Very good post. Can you imagine the implications this would have on the business climate in Amerika?!?!?

      • Gilbert Gnarley

        It would be beneficial to know what exactly was the particular rationale for the EPA's retroactive veto of the permit, something that is lacking in the article. Without that information, one is forced to conclude that this becomes just another in a long line of political propaganda and disinformation designed to promote an agenda.

        I wish we had more information on this case, not just the info that Morrisey wishes to mention. In that way an informed opinion could be given by the public and a rush to judgement could be avoided by everyone.

        We should expect no less from any elected official be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

        • Aaron

          The motivation was revealed during the Presidential campaign of 2008 when Senator Obama revealed his goal for coal.

          That's what is so scary about all of this. He knew what he wanted to do and despite this permit undergoing the most intensive scrutiny in permitting history and was the first to undergo Federal Environmental Impact Statements.

          The process began 1997, lasted ~10 years and saw Arch coal reduce the size and scope of the mine by nearly 35% during numerous concessions meant to appease the various government agencies, including the EPA, involved in the permitting process as well as guidelines set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act.

          After 10 years of scrutiny that involved Arch spending millions of dollars to comply with federal government requirements, a permit was issued and Arch began preparations for extracting coal.

          Two years later, after Obama wan the White House, the EPA suddenly found "new evidence" and started the veto process. Once the permit was revoked, Arch sued.

          If this decision is allowed to stand, no business is safe from the expanding arms of our federal government.

  • Darren

    "Retroactively", means they could shut down any business currently operating under an APPROVED permit, after millions have been invested. America better wake up and hold our government accountable.

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Tacky reelection campaign slogan #3 (in a continuing series) - "Patrick Morrisey: Protector of West Virginians Against That Nasty Federal Government's Even Nastier EPA Booger Man".:)

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    gottal get obama out first , may have to wait a couple years, that organization is his pony