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.