By Darren Goode - 10/06/10 02:38 PM EDT
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) on Wednesday announced the state is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its crackdown on mountaintop-removal practices by the coal mining industry.
Manchin, at a morning news conference at the state capitol, said the lawsuit had been in the works long before the death of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) — a staunch defender of the state's mining industry — in June, according to The Associated Press. Manchin spoke of Byrd’s legacy and pulled out a copy of the U.S. Constitution, as Byrd often did on the Senate floor, and quoted the 10th Amendment, which deals with states' powers, the AP reported.
The National Mining Association has already filed two lawsuits to block implementation of tougher EPA water-quality
guidelines for mountaintop removal and other coal-mining practices in West Virginia and five other Appalachian states.
The guidelines were issued in draft form on April 1. EPA is taking public comment until Dec. 1 and will issue final guidelines by April. But the agency is already using the released guidelines to clarify how future Clean Water Act permits are being issued for coal-mining practices in the six states.
EPA has countered that the guidelines are based on sound science. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement when they were released that the “people of Appalachia shouldn't have to choose between a clean, healthy environment in which to raise their families and the jobs they need to support them.”
Coal-state lawmakers from both parties have joined the fight as well.
A bipartisan group of 16 House lawmakers — led by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and including a handful of Democrats — has so far backed a bill introduced recently to block funding next year for EPA to implement the guidelines.
The issue has been raised at dueling rallies in the last month, including one attended by House and Senate coal-state lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill.