January 13, 2011

Senator Manchin: EPA's Unprecedented and Irresponsible Decision Jeopardizes our Economic Recovery and Jobs

Charleston, W.Va. — Senator Joe Manchin today voiced his strong opposition to the unprecedented decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to retroactively veto a coal mining permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.  The permit was already approved after an exhaustive, approximately 10-year regulatory process which included time for an extensive review by the EPA.
“Today's EPA decision is not just fundamentally wrong, it is an unprecedented act by the federal government that will cost our state and our nation even more jobs during the worst recession in this country’s history," Senator Manchin said. "While the EPA decision hurts West Virginia today, it has negative ramifications for every state in our nation, and I strongly urge every Senator and every Member of Congress to voice their opposition."
Manchin continued: "It goes without saying, such an irresponsible regulatory step is not only a shocking display of overreach, it will have a chilling effect on investments and our economic recovery. I plan to do everything in my power to fight this decision.”
The US Army Corps of Engineers awarded the Spruce Mine permit to the Mingo Logan Coal Company in 2007.  The permit, known as a Section 404(c) permit, is a requirement for constructing valley fills, a process used in surface coal mining.  The EPA has authority under the Clean Water Act to “veto” Section 404(c) permits before they are awarded by the US Army Corps.  However, the EPA has never before attempted to veto a previously awarded and active permit.
“The EPA is setting a dangerous precedent with this decision,” Manchin said. “According to the EPA, it doesn't matter if you did everything right, if you followed all of the rules. Why? They just change the rules. But what the EPA doesn't seem to understand is that this decision has ramifications that reach far beyond coal mining in West Virginia. The EPA is jeopardizing thousands of jobs and essentially sending a message to every business and industry that the federal government has no intention of honoring past promises and that no investment is safe. That message will destroy not only our jobs, but our way of life.”
Mingo Logan Coal Company was poised to invest $250 million dollars in the Spruce Mine project, which would have created approximately 200 well-paying jobs with benefits.  The EPA’s decision to retroactively veto the permit casts serious doubt on the future of this project.