Appeals Court Upholds EPA in Coal Ruling
The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday announced its decision to back the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its coal mining restraints designed to reduce water pollution from surface mining.
The courts ruled in a 3-0 decision the EPA acted accordingly within its right to institute two measures under the Clean Water Act, which addresses damages caused by mountaintop coal removal such as surface mining.
The EPA has implemented two recommendations for miners since 2009: screening mining permit applications made to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and recommending states impose tougher guidelines for issuing mining permits. The recommendations set by the EPA are known as a “final guidance.”
In the ruling, Judge Kavanaugh said EPA’s recommendations are not an agency action reviewable by the courts.
"In our view, EPA and the Corps acted within their statutory authority when they adopted the Enhanced Coordination Process," said Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
"And under our precedents, the Final Guidance is not final agency action reviewable by the courts at this time.”
In a statement, the EPA said it welcomed the ruling and confirmed it is working with states, mining companies and the public to encourage environmentally responsible mining.
"We are committed to consistently using our authority under the Clean Water Act to protect the health and environment of Appalachian communities," said the EPA in a statement.
"The Agency is working with the states, mining companies, other stakeholders and the public to enable environmentally responsible mining projects to move forward.”
Challengers of EPA’s recommendations said the organization was overstepping its authority because the Clean Water Act did not specify such actions.