Supreme Court rejects EPA coal mining permit case

The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal from a coal mining company challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to veto a West Virginia coal project.

EPA blocked the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in 2011, four years after the Army Corps of Engineers under President George W. Bush (R) granted the permit to Mingo Logan, a subsidiary of Arch Coal Inc. The permit, granted under the Clean Water Act, would have allowed the company to dump waste materials into waterways.

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Arch brought the case to the Supreme Court after an appeals court ruled in favor of EPA.

Arch had argued in court papers that the Clean Water Act “does not remotely grant EPA a retroactive trump card that trivializes the Corps’ authority and destroys the regulated community’s ability to rely on the permit.” The law allows EPA to block a permit before it is issued, but Arch argued that the same power does not apply retroactively.

Business groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association and the Chamber of Commerce supported Arch’s appeal, as did 27 states, including West Virginia.

The Supreme Court did not give a reason for rejecting the case. The rejection does not affect a separate federal lawsuit Arch has brought over different issues in the Spruce rejection.