December 20, 2010

Senators Manchin and Rockefeller Send Letter to EPA Urging the Agency not to Retroactively Veto the Spruce No. 1 Mine Permit

Letter requests the EPA to consider the negative consequences a veto would have on American jobs and the economy

WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) today jointly sent a letter to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson, urging the agency not to veto the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit.
The Senators’ letter states that, "We understand that EPA has a specific mandate from Congress, and that ensuring the economic stability of our Nation is not part of the Agency's mission. However, the environment and the economy are not mutually exclusive, and the context of our country's current economic situation must not be ignored. We believe strongly that EPA should seek an appropriate balance that will protect the environment, as well as secure the strength and security of this Nation. A veto of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit is not in the best interests of West Virginia or our Nation. Therefore, we strongly urge you not to veto this permit when you make your final determination."
“For some time now, the EPA has been waging a war against Appalachian coal mining that is costing us American jobs and investment,” SenatorManchin said.  “I believe in preserving the environment, but there has to be a balance.  The EPA should strongly consider the negative consequences such an unprecedented decision would have on our fragile economy.   If the EPA takes the unprecedented step of retroactively denying a lawfully issued permit, it will cost our state jobs and there will be a national chilling effect on this kind of investment.”
“For over a year, I have been extremely concerned about potential EPA action to veto the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit,” said Senator Rockefeller. “The Spruce No.1 Mine has made good faith efforts to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and this permit was issued by the Army Corps of Engineers almost four years ago. This has been going on for too long – it is wrong and unfair for the EPA to change the rules for a permit that is already active.”
The Senators note that, "We have publicly opposed the actions EPA has taken in relation to this permit, and we disagree with how the Agency has interpreted its authority pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. We believe it is unwise to place a mining permit under additional scrutiny after it has been rigorously reviewed, lawfully issued and active for over a year." The Senators further highlight the negative economic impacts that would occur on both the state and national level if EPA revokes a permit after the permit was lawfully issued, stating that this action will "undoubtedly undermine any confidence businesses may have that the government will honor its promises and protect investments."
The Mingo Logan Coal Company is expected to invest an additional $250 million in the Spruce No. 1 Mine and estimates that the project will create more than 200 additional jobs with benefits, with the average salary including benefits being $65,000 per year.
Additional Background on Spruce No. 1 Mine permit:
  • On September 24, 2010, EPA Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin recommended that the Agency retroactively veto the §404(c) Clean Water Act permit for Spruce No. 1 Mine.
  • EPA is under a court-ordered deadline to complete the Final Determination of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit by February 22, 2011.
  • EPA has used its authority to veto a §404(c) Clean Water Act permit only 12 times since 1972.

  •  The EPA has never used its veto authority to retroactively veto a permit after it has been lawfully reviewed and issued by the US. Army Corps of Engineers.