Supreme Court rejects case over EPA coal jobs reports

Supreme Court rejects case over EPA coal jobs reports
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court Monday declined to hear a coal mining company’s appeal arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must regularly report on the impact to coal jobs from its regulations.

Murray Energy Corp.’s case was one of dozens the court declined to hear without any explanation.

The rejection means that the previous ruling stands, in which the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the EPA does not have to regularly produce the jobs reports.

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Murray Energy is headed by Bob Murray, an outspoken coal mogul and frequent litigant against the Obama EPA and others he has perceived as anti-coal, as well as a strong supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE.

The case started years ago, under the Obama administration, amid industry and Republican accusations that the administration was killing thousands of jobs with its environmental rules.

Murray argued that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA a concrete, non-negotiable duty to frequently report on the estimated and actual impact its regulations have on employment in affected industries, like coal mining and utilities.

“There is also no question that Congress intended these evaluations to be mandatory,” the company wrote in its petition last year to the Supreme Court.

John Preston Bailey, a federal judge in West Virginia, agreed with Murray, ruling in 2016 that the EPA had to do a jobs analysis within months and continue to update the analysis regularly.

Both the Obama and Trump administrations said Murray’s reading of the law was too inflexible and that the EPA’s existing analyses written as part of the regulatory process was sufficient.

The Richmond-based Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit agreed and overturned the West Virginia ruling in 2017.

Nonetheless, the EPA under Trump has promised to beef up how it considers the employment impact of regulations across various sectors.

“EPA acknowledges the importance of considering the cumulative effects of its regulations on the American public. Accordingly, EPA intends to conduct these evaluations consistent with the statutes,” it said in an October report about its deregulatory plans.