W.Va. Gov. Manchin sues EPA over mountaintop removal

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.
 

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Manchin’s announcement comes as he finds himself in a dead heat with Republican John Raese for Byrd’s seat. Manchin’s troubles for that seat — despite his high approval rating as governor — have been used to illustrate the problem some Democrats are having in being linked to President Obama and national Democratic leaders. Raese has steadily improved in the head-to-head race, and edged ahead in a recent Rasmussen poll.

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.