Merits of Case Must Now Be Decided
A federal appeals court ruling Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to rescind a dumping permit three years after it was granted by the Army Corps of Engineers drew cheers from environmentalists.
The decision reverses a lower court’s ruling that would have allowed Mingo Logan Coal Co. to proceed with plans for one of the nation’s largest mountaintop mines in southern West Virginia. Mingo Logan is a subsidiary of Arch Coal, the second largest producer of fossil fuel in the country.
But the case is far from over. The decision, written by Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, returns the case to District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. When Jackson sided with Arch Coal last year, she ruled on the company’s argument that the EPA lacked authority to rescind the permit but she must now rule on its contention that the agency was “arbitrary and capricious” in its arguments. Continue reading EPA’s Victory Moves Clean Water Act Fight Back to District Court
Mountain Laurel Complex in W.V. image from Google Earth
A standing-room only crowd packed a federal appeals courtroom in D.C. Thursday morning to hear arguments over whether the Environmental Protection Agency may rescind a dumping permit after it has been granted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The high-profile case is being closely monitored by industry and the environmental community. The Chamber of Commerce, 34 industry trade groups and seven environmental organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case. Mingo Logan Coal Co., a subsidiary of Arch Coal, the nation’s second largest producer of the fossil fuel, is represented by four lawyers from Hunton & Williams, a powerful law and lobby firm.
At issue is the proposed Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Va., which would be one of the largest mountaintop mining sites in the country. The EPA says in its brief to the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia that the project would disturb 3.5 square miles of earth and spew nearly 3 billion cubic feet of dirt and rubble into seven miles of mountain streams. Continue reading EPA Fights to Stop Large Mountaintop Coal Mine
Shale Gas, North Carolina
Two of 15 members of a panel set up to write the regulations for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina have potential conflicts of interest, according to disclosure forms and land records. Both members were assigned to seats that were supposed to go to environmentalists. And the chairman of the state Mining and Energy Commission says he intends to move swiftly to draft regulations and likens the risks of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to the chances of getting hit in the head with a meteorite.
All of this has environmentalists wondering how impartial the panel will be.
“We were well aware that most of these appointees…were folks that were pro-fracking,” Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina says. “Many of them have been overtly, outspokenly pro-drilling.” Continue reading Pro-Industry Interests Dominate N.C. Commission Writing Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations
The company that wants to mine uranium in Virginia is supporting a bill in the upcoming General Assembly calling for regulations to govern the proposed mining, according to lobbyists for Virginia Uranium. The move is widely seen by environmentalists and others as a way to authorize the mining while avoiding an up or down vote on the controversial project.
If approved, it would be the first full-scale uranium mining project east of the Mississippi. Mining in the U.S. has traditionally taken place in arid areas of the West, and opponents of the mine say south central Virginia’s relatively wet climate and susceptibility to hurricanes, storms and even earthquakes increases the health and safety risks of uranium mining in the state.
Continue reading End Run: Supporters of Uranium Mining in Virginia Push Bill to Effectively Lift the Ban Without an Up or Down Vote