Tags: epa | rules | mountaintop | mining

Judge Throws Out EPA Rules on Mountaintop Mining

Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012 11:51 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

A federal judge Tuesday threw out new Environmental Protection Agency rules on water pollution from Appalachian coal mining operations, striking another blow to the Obama administration’s opposition to mountaintop mining.

The Charleston Gazette reported the decision from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington, D.C., said the EPA overstepped its authority when it issued the new rules governing water quality. The judge also noted that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had “infringed on the authority” of state regulators to enforce their own pollution permit and water quality guidelines, the newspaper said.

Walton said once the federal government allows states to establish their own water pollution permitting agencies, the EPA role in testing control measures becomes “limited.”

The judge also noted that it’s unlikely his decision would end the mountaintop removal debate, saying it’s not the role of the courts to debate the need to preserve the environment versus the future of the coal industry.

Walton’s ruling marked the third loss in court this year for the EPA regarding mountaintop mining.

Democratic U.S. Sen Joe Manchin, who as governor sued the EPA over its mining guidance policies, called Walton’s decision “a great day for West Virginia.”

“I’m pleased and gratified to hear that the federal court has ruled in favor of our state, the miners who work here, and the people who depend on coal for their livelihoods," Manchin said.

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