July 20, 2014
By Ron Gregory
WASHINGTON — The federal Environmental Protection Agency would be limited in their ability to retroactively revoke fill or dredge permits under legislation advocated this week by U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virgina’s Third District.
Rahall, the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said his move was designed to “stand up to the EPA’s overreach in West Virginia.”
He advanced the bill through his committee on Wednesday. The local congressman cited the EPA’s retroactive revocation of a permit for Spruce Fork Mine in Logan County as an example of “overreach by the EPA. They should never have been permitted to do that,” he said of the federal agency.
“By vetoing the permit, the EPA demonstrated that its word is no good,” the congressman said. He added “permit negotiations are a farce and 404 permits are worthless.”
Under the Regulatory Certainty Act, as promoted by Rahall, the EPA would not be allowed to take any action against a permit to put dredge or fill materials in waterways or wetlands until an application is filed or a permit issued. The bill’s supporters say they are targeting two recent EPA decisions to retroactively revoke the West Virginia permit a year after it was granted and the start of a similar revocation process in Alaska.
Leading Democrats, including State Chair Larry Puccio, praised Rahall as a “champion of coal miners and working people everywhere.” The conservative Charleston Daily Mail also editorially hailed the legislation proposed by Rahall as a move to “stop EPA’s abusive misuse of power.”
In addition, the Third District congressman is at the forefront of legislation designed to strip the EPA of funding that would allow it to create rules to cap carbon emissions from existing and future coal-fired power plants.
“This bill is a wrench in the gears of the EPA’s machine,” said Rahall, who was visiting in the Logan area Friday to meet with friends and supporters.