IN March 2012, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have the power to retroactively veto a Clean Water Act permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued for a surface mine in Logan County.
On April 23, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that because the word "whenever" appears in the statute, the EPA does have that authority.
A coal company first applied for the permit in 1999. The corps issued a permit to Mingo Logan Coal Co. in January 2007.
In January 2011, the EPA revoked the permit.
Coal will not be mined. Money will not be made. Jobs will not be created.
Such is life in coal country. A distant and uncaring federal bureaucracy controls the economic lifeblood of investors, companies, families, businesses and communities, and may shut it off at any time - years after a permit is applied for, years after it is granted, and years after it is challenged in court.
Understandably, the ruling provoked an outcry from those elected to represent coal country.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the court's decision creates a "cloud of uncertainty" over businesses and individuals. They vowed to introduce legislation called the Coal Jobs Protection Act.