CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s attorney general says a U.S. district court will now be asked to weigh in on a separate question tied to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to retroactively veto permits under the Clean Water Act.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case involving a permit the EPA pulled years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued it for Mingo Logan Coal Company’s Spruce Mine – a massive surface mine project – in Logan County.
However, Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general, said that is not the end of the case since the U.S. Supreme Court’s move effectively addressed the EPA’s procedure and not the EPA’s justification.
“The whole debate shifts to whether the veto was based on substantially new information of adverse environmental effect. That’s something the district court is going to sort out. That’s a fact-based inquiry,” he said.
“I think that there’s going to be a robust debate on that point. The company believes that they have very strong evidence that there was no such new information. I think, given the procedural history here, there’s a reason to question the EPA’s motives.”
Officials with Arch Coal, the parent company of Mingo Logan Coal, have indicated they’ll take the case back to the U.S. District Court for a ruling on the merits now that the U.S. Supreme Court has passed, despite arguments for a hearing from 27 state attorneys general, including Morrisey.
“No one is questioning that the EPA shouldn’t have a role in this process. The question is when and where,” said Morrisey on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“We think, in this case, that they went beyond where even the state DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) would be normally permitted to engage.”