Governor Manchin Announces WV Will Sue EPA
The following remarks were given by Governor Joe Manchin during a press conference on October 6, 2010, announcing the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s action to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding coal mining permits in West Virginia:
I want to thank the representatives from the West Virginia Coal Association, the UMWA and all of the top-notch workers and families from the mining community, for your dedication and commitment on behalf of the people of West Virginia.
Thank you all for being here for this press conference.
I’ve asked our stakeholders to come together today because over the past year and a half, we have been fighting President Obama’s Administration’s attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia.
In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began interfering with the surface coal mine permitting process in West Virginia.
Through a series of questionable and unlawful actions, the U.S. EPA has implemented policies and procedures that have delayed the permitting process and halted the issuance of new mine permits.
For example, without formal rulemaking, the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Interior adopted a policy in 2009 that delayed the issuance of twenty-three pending coal permits in WV.
Of those permits, only two have been approved to go forward.
The others have been either withdrawn or are still pending.
U.S. EPA has also usurped the authority of the State and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to oversee and regulate important aspects of our environment, like water quality.
Again, U.S. EPA has done this without any legal authority, and in so doing has relied on questionable scientific studies that have not been adequately peer reviewed or presented to the State and coal mining community for comment.
These actions by U.S. EPA are threatening not only to end surface coal mining in West Virginia, but to affect all forms of mining in the state.
We have raised numerous concerns with U.S. EPA over its policies:
- We’ve reached out to the EPA to try and find common ground;
- We have asked time and again for clarity in the permitting process;
- We’ve asked simply for the opportunity to obtain a work permit, not a hand-out.
Despite our efforts, the EPA has continued to overreach; They have proven that they are trying to regulate what they can’t legislate;
It has been our firm belief that the mining community and our mining companies should be afforded the fundamental opportunity and fairness to know the rules on the front end before they commit to spending countless hours … and millions of dollars … to put people to work and get a marketable return on their investment … just to find out if it will ever happen.
Sadly, the mining community has been held in limbo and forced to figure out how to navigate the permitting process on its own, only to have the federal government tell them what they like and don’t like.
For these reasons, I directed the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to take action to file suit against the U.S. EPA. in protection of our working families and our way of life.
The State has worked as hard as it could to resolve these issues with EPA without resorting to litigation.
However, I’ve said that we will take legal action if necessary to protect the interests of West Virginia’s working coal miners.
The EPAs illegal actions absolutely will harm West Virginia’s economy and cost us jobs.
We are asking the Court to reverse EPA’s actions before West Virginia’s economy and our mining community, face further hardship and uncertainty and weaken the strength of this country.
The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution gives states these rights.
(The governor read the text of the 10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.)