U.S. SC won't hear Spruce Mine case

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 25, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court won't hear a case focusing on a West Virginia mine permit and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The case focuses on whether the EPA exceeded its powers when it retroactively took away part a Clean Water Act permit for Spruce Mine in after one already has been granted. In this case, it was for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County.

The decision to not hear the case is seen as a victory for the Obama administration and environmental groups. The court opted not to hear the case despite 27 state attorneys general pushing otherwise.

“It is always very difficult to get a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the decision in this case is disappointing,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told MetroNews. “The EPA’s decision to rescind a permit years after it was granted to Mingo Logan Coal Co.’s Spruce Mine negatively impacted West Virginia jobs, families and the state as a whole.”

Arch Coal, the parent company of Mingo Logan Coal, still is appealing the EPA’s decision in federal court.

Arch had sued the EPA after the permit had been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. In 2012, a federal judge ruled against the EPA’s veto. But in 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the EPA.

Such a permit usually is used to dump rock and soil into surrounding watersheds. Using the Clean Water Act, the Corps issues permits for the disposal of material into waterways while the EPA can act to block the permit.

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