CHARLESTON, W.Va. - U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wants to "push back" against the federal Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to the permitting process for coal mines.
Capito and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced plans Monday to sponsor legislation called the "Coal Jobs Protection Act."
"It will provide the certainty that we need to say that the overreach by the EPA is leading to job loss, uncertainty and inability to secure permits," Capito said Monday afternoon in a phone interview.
Last week a federal appeals court ruled the EPA had the legal authority to retroactively veto a water pollution permit for Spruce No. 1 Mine, a Logan County mountaintop removal mine operated by Arch Coal.
Capito and other West Virginia politicians decried the action, calling it another battle in President Barack Obama's "war on coal."
Supporters of the EPA's decision said the move was a victory to help prevent some destructive aspects of mountaintop removal mining, according to The Associated Press.
The EPA would lose the ability to retroactively veto a permit if Capito and McConnell's measure becomes law. It also gives states final say in setting standards for issuing permits, Capito said.
The bill "puts the administration on the clock," Capito said. Right now, the EPA has an indefinite amount of time to decide whether to issue a permit. It's costing West Virginia jobs, she said.
If the bill becomes law, "the administration has a firm deadline of 270 days for approval. Now they just keep stringing this along," Capito said.
"If you don't make a judgment on this permit in a certain amount of time, it's going to go forward."