W.Va. House members introduce EPA bill

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 3, 2015

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – West Virginia’s entire U.S. House of Representatives delegation has re-introduced a bill that looks to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s “unprecedented” overreach.

Rep. David McKinley is the bill’s sponsor. Reps. Evan Jenkins and Alex Mooney are cosponsors. All three are Republicans.

The bill, which was submitted Monday, would amend the agency’s authority to revoke permits.

McKinley said he introduced the legislation again in hopes of preventing a situation similar to the Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine in Logan.

In January 2011, the EPA revoked a lawfully issued, four-year old section 404 water permit for the West Virginia mine.

“When the EPA retroactively revoked the Spruce Mine permit in Logan County, they destroyed good-paying jobs in West Virginia and made businesses of all types lose trust in the federal permitting process,” McKinley said in a statement.

The permit was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January 2007, following a 10-year environmental review. The review included a 1,600-page environmental impact statement in which the EPA participated and agreed to all terms and conditions in the authorized permit.

“Make no mistake -- the Obama administration and his EPA have declared a war on West Virginia coal and West Virginia coal jobs, and Logan County’s Spruce No. 1 mine is just one target,” said Jenkins, who represents the state’s Third Congressional District, in which the mine is located.

The legislation would prohibit the EPA from retroactively vetoing valid permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal agency traditionally tasked with reviewing such projects.

“This action creates uncertainty for any business that needs a permit for its operations -- not just coal but manufacturing, construction, agriculture and many others,” McKinley said. “I will continue to fight this gross abuse of power and return certainty to permitting so businesses can create jobs.”

Jenkins agreed, saying jobs in the state are “on the line.”

“The EPA is stretching its authority by canceling legally issued permits,” he said. “West Virginia businesses and workers need and deserve certainty from the federal government, but the EPA’s actions put construction projects and jobs in jeopardy.”

McKinley introduced similar legislation in the previous two Congresses.

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