CHARLESTON -- A coal industry group wants a court order barring the Obama administration from using a policy designed to limit surface mining in Appalachia.
The National Mining Association said it filed a motion seeking the order on Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The association sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over the issue in July.
The newest lawsuit seeks to overturn the policy, which the EPA unveiled in April.
The mining association says the agencies are illegally preventing mines from obtaining water quality permits to dispose of excess material by burying streams and are circumventing the normal rulemaking process in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
The new EPA policy tightened water quality standards in hopes of eliminating valley fills in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Tennessee.
The Friday filing follows a bill introduced last week by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and lawmakers from other coal industry states that say they would block the EPA and the Corps from using federal funds to proceed with implementing the two sets of EPA guidance.
The EPA had no immediate comment, but Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the policy is designed to make it nearly impossible to obtain a valley fill permit in those states.
The agency maintains that "it has reason to believe that discharges from surface mining activities have a significant potential to cause nonattainment of applicable water quality standards downstream from valley fills, impoundments, and sediment ponds."
Meanwhile, environmentalists have cheered the EPA policy for curbing mountaintop removal coal mining. The practice is considered too destructive by opponents, but mine operators defend it as an efficient way to extract coal for electric power plants in much of the eastern United States.