District Judge slaps down the EPA

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 10, 2012

As a rule, we prefer not to indulge in schadenfreude. It's unseemly. Poor sportsmanship and all that. Still, when the Environmental Protection Agency gets a well-deserved and long-overdue slap down, we can't help but gloat.

How we wish we'd been in court when the decision came down, so we could have watched the EPA representatives squirm as we chanted "Nayh, nayh, nya-nayh, nayh!" What a precious memory that would have made.

Again, it's only rarely that we get the urge to engage in such behavior. It's just that the EPA's been asking for it for a long time. They were due for a comeuppance -- and who can blame us for wanting to rub their noses in it?

Concluding that the Environmental Protection Agency has "overstepped its statutory authority under the CWA and the SMCRA, and infringed on the authority afforded state regulators by those statutes," Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia set aside an EPA "guidance document" that had effectively blocked the issuance of mining permits in West Virginia.

In other words, the power that federal EPA commissars presumed to wield is nowhere to be found in the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. It's not there. They don't have that power. They just tried to create it.

Fortunately, the National Mining Association (NMA) and other plaintiffs called them on it and Judge Walton reined them in.

NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn praised the decision, noting that it "affirmed NMA's longstanding belief that EPA overreached its authority in its virtual moratorium on Eastern coal mining permits and denied those operations the protections provided for under the law. It is now time," he added, "to get miners back to work by allowing the state permitting agencies to do their jobs."

For all the folks who want more jobs for West Virginia, go ahead and enjoy a brief gloat.

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