Feds ask judge to end coal lawsuit against EPA

Feds ask judge to end coal lawsuit against EPA
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The government is asking a federal judge to end a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before it goes to trial this summer. 

In a new filing at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Justice Department argues that the evidence gathered for Murray Energy Corp.'s lawsuit against the EPA supports the agency's position. 

Murray, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, has sued the EPA over its regulatory agenda, arguing the agency doesn’t properly show how its rules will affect employment before issuing them.

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The EPA has said its activities are proper and that the case should be dismissed for the handful of reasons: Murray hasn’t been able to show the lack of an employment analysis would help the company financially, for example. And either way, it says, it does conduct the analyses Murray alleges it doesn’t.

“While plaintiffs may not agree with EPA’s policy choices or conclusions in its employment evaluations, those issues are not before this Court,” the Justice Department’s filing said. 

“The only issue before this Court is whether EPA has conducted the evaluations described in [statute]. It is undisputed that EPA conducted the employment evaluations.”

The government is asking for a judgment in the EPA's favor, a dismissal of the case, or even a decision siding with Murray that asks the agency to conduct more analyses — as long as the case stays out of court.

“The United States has expended millions of dollars of public funds to review and produce hundreds of thousands of documents and privilege logs over the course of tens of thousands of hours. The parties have taken a dozen depositions. Fact discovery consumed nearly eleven months,” the agency said in its filing. 

“Trial is not necessary in this case because no material facts are in dispute."