Federal Judge Rules Against EPA In Coal Mining Case

A federal judge has recently ruled against the EPA's violation of the law in issuing its ruling against the coal mining industry.

Judge Reggie Walton, a federal court judge in Washington, D.C. has recently ruled that the EPA has exceeded its statutory authority and violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by relying on “interpretive guidance” rather than a regulation to modify the permitting process for coal mining activity under the Clean Air Act.

The case is National Mining Association v. EPA.

According to environmental lawyer Russell Prugh:

In 2009 and 2010, EPA issued a series of guidance documents regarding agency review of CWA permits for so-called mountain-top removal coal mining. Specifically, EPA used interpretive guidance to call out certain CWA permits for additional environmental review and to implement (among other things) acceptable “conductivity” levels for streams impacted by coal mining. The National Mining Association (“NMA”) sought a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the guidance. Judge Walton denied the injunction in January 2011, but intimated that NMA was likely to succeed on the merits of its challenge. At the parties’ request, the court agreed to a bifurcated hearing schedule under which the court would first hear challenges to the additional environmental review process and then hear challenges to the conductivity guidance. The court’s most recent decision concerns the first issue only.

Judge Walton granted summary judgment to NMA and invalidated EPA’s “process” guidance. A ruling on the conductivity guidance is expected next year. The broader implications of the court’s ruling are that EPA cannot shortcut the administrative process by using guidance in lieu of regulations to change environmental rules.

Following a recent trend, the district court for the D.C. Circuit becomes the latest federal court to conclusively rule that EPA overstepped its authority by regulating with interim guidance documents. EPA has, in recent years, tended to favor the use of interpretive guidance where it can, as the rulemaking process is typically long and arduous. These recent decisions represent a growing consensus among the courts that rulemaking, though arduous, is the only lawful way for EPA to effect substantive regulatory changes.

In short, the EPA can’t skirt the law to impose its own anti-coal political agenda on the mining industry.

Read Prugh’s detailed explanation of the case …

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  1. Yes, everything that the EPA wants to restrict should land in court. It is industry's only defense against environmental tyranny.

    • Their record in court is a reflection on the radical decisions they are trying to push and quite evident that they are more harmful overall to the economy and jobs and the court agrees.

  2. This Congress must cut off funding to everyone of Obamas Czars,no money no regulations.its time to wake this President up and remind him that he is not the King of America but the President.This President must be stoped or he will destroy this Nation.

  3. Until we replace those individuals who appear to be intellectually challenged, integrity deficient and overwhelmingly arrogant heading some of our governmental agencies, with honest, intelligent and personable individuals, we cannot expect our country to begin its recovery from the depths to which it has fallen.

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