A lawsuit filed by the states of West Virginia and Kentucky, the Kentucky Coal Association, the City of Pikeville, and the National Mining Association against U.S. EPA was awarded a major victory in court July 31. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that U.S. EPA was in error by using a “guidance document” to bind decisions for permits on Section 402 and 404 permits for coal mines under the clean water act (CWA).
In the opinion, there are interesting legal conclusions supporting the argument that SMCRA reigns over the CWA. Also in question is what happens to the 36 permits that EPA denied in Kentucky through the use of guidance documents. The denial of these permits has cost Kentucky thousands of jobs and millions in coal severance tax revenue. EPA is expected to appeal the decision.