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EPA settles pollution claims with Dem candidate’s company

The Environmental Protection Agency is settling water pollution claims with a coal company owned by a Democratic candidate for governor of West Virginia.

Southern Coal Corp. and its affiliates, owned by billionaire Jim Justice, have agreed to pay a $900,000 civil penalty, implement new compliance measures worth about $5 million and establish a $4.5 million letter of credit and a standby trust to guarantee funding for Clean Water Act compliance, the EPA said Friday.

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The EPA charges that Southern and affiliates discharged pollutants into waterways at coal mining and processing facilities in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia and didn’t sufficiently sample water quality of nearby rivers and streams, in violation of federal law.

Justice is an outspoken advocate for coal, bucking the Democratic Party’s general goal of reducing the use of fossil fuels.

He announced last month that he wouldn’t support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Federal workers stuck it out with Trump — now, we're ready to get back to work Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE because of her opposition to coal, saying her coal position is “diametrically, completely wrong in many, many different ways.”

The EPA said the measures in the settlement would reduce water pollution by about 5 million pounds.

“Discharging pollution from coal mining into waterways is a serious threat to clean water, and that’s why EPA stepped in on behalf of communities across Appalachia,” Cynthia Giles, head of enforcement at the EPA, said in a statement.

“This settlement is designed to bring the companies into compliance with the Clean Water Act and requires actions that should prevent future violations,” said John Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s environmental division.

Southern and its affiliates did not admit to the allegations as part of the settlement.

A poll earlier this month conducted for the GOP found that Justice was slightly ahead of his Republican opponent, Bill Cole, 44 percent to 42 percent, well within the margin of error, according to MetroNews.