Supreme Court Refuses to Hear EPA Coal Case

Mingo Logan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear the Mingo Logan case, which revolves around whether the Environmental Protection Agency may veto a dumping permit already granted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

At issue is whether the EPA may stop Arch Coal from building a huge mountaintop mine in Logan County, W.Va.  St. Louis-based Arch Coal, one of the world’s largest producers of coal, according to its website, is the parent company of Mingo Logan Coal Co.

Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine is located in south western West Virginia, an area of Appalachia that has been ravaged by mountaintop mining. In this controversial method of extracting coal, miners dynamite hundreds of vertical feet of mountaintop to expose the coal beneath. Continue reading Supreme Court Refuses to Hear EPA Coal Case

Widened Panama Canal Threatens the Environment

North Atlantic Right Whale (NOAA)

The Obama administration’s push to modernize U.S. ports to accommodate huge new ships that can pass through the widened Panama Canal worries environmentalists who believe U.S. coastlines will be subjected to enormous damage and coastal residents will face increased health risks. For marine life already threatened by shipping traffic, like the majestic right whale, the odds are even tougher.

The North Atlantic right whale gets its name, legend has it, from the fishing industry’s belief that it was the “right” whale to hunt because of its docile nature, tendency to stay close to the coast and habit of swimming near the ocean surface to skim for food. One of the largest animals in the world at 59 feet and 70 tons, it’s also one of the most critically endangered. Continue reading Widened Panama Canal Threatens the Environment

EPA’s Victory Moves Clean Water Act Fight Back to District Court

Merits of Case Must Now Be Decided

Mingo Logan

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

EPA Fights to Stop Large Mountaintop Coal Mine

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

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