Charleston, WV – The “War on Coal” continued last week when a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a district court ruling issued last year that said the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its legal bounds when it withdrew parts of an already-issued mountaintop mining permit. The ruling has caused an outcry from many West Virginia coal miners and politicians alike, citing that the ruling is not fair. However, Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral) continues to push for his bill, introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates for the past three years, to become law. The bill, the Intrastate Coal and Use Act, would allow the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to issue permits to coal mines for use only in West Virginia.
“The federal government can pull the rug out from under West Virginia workers at any time as evidenced by the ruling for the permit at Spruce mine,” said Delegate Howell. “This is exactly why we have the 10th Amendment that reserves rights to the states. The Intrastate Coal and Use Act will provide the ability to keep West Virginians working and will advance the sovereignty of States’ rights to govern themselves.”
The proposed legislation would allow the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to issue mining permits to companies that produce, sell and use coal within the borders of West Virginia while making sure the environment is protected. The DEP is currently responsible for assuring that all current and potential mines have met or will meet the regulations of the Clean Water Act. That would not change, only the agency issuing the final permit would.