MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A federal appeals court says the Environmental Protection Agency had the legal authority to veto permits for one of West Virginia’s largest mountaintop removal coal mines.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s ruling and sent the case back for further proceedings.
In 2011, EPA revoked a water-pollution permit the Army Corps of Engineers had issued four years earlier to St. Louis-based Arch Coal for its 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 mine.
EPA said destructive, unsustainable mining practices would cause irreparable environmental damage and threaten the health of residents nearby.
Industry, politicians and state regulators wanted the appeals court to uphold a federal judge’s ruling that EPA overstepped its authority. They say EPA is preventing permits from ever being considered final.