The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

Local News

April 27, 2013

EPA and mine permit: Rahall: Ruling has a ‘chilling effect’

Congressman warns agency could go after other businesses

— Emboldened by an appeals court edict that upheld its right to yank a West Virginia mining permit after its issuance, Rep. Nick Rahall says he fears the Environmental Protection Agency might go after noncoal businesses next.

This week, an appellate court decided the EPA was within its authority to cancel a permit issued for Spruce No. 1 mine, a mountaintop mining operation in Logan County.

Environmental forces hailed the ruling as right, but Rahall and fellow members of the West Virginia congressional delegation denounced it and warned it could trigger a domino effect across the coal industry.

A national Sierra Club spokesman, however, disputed this, pointing out in an interview that the EPA has only vetoed Army Corps of Engineers permits 13 times in four decades, and merely three times retroactively.

“It doesn’t matter, in my opinion,” Rahall, a Democrat, said Friday.

“The precedent has been set. It doesn’t give any sense of confidence to business, not only coal mining, but highway construction.”

As he interprets the Spruce ruling, Rahall said the EPA now would have the juice to start scrutinizing pollution permits in regard to any number of businesses and remove their ability to function.

“They could even take this beyond coal mining permits,” the 3rd District congressman said.

“It certainly has a chilling effect.”

Rahall warned of a snowball effect in coal production if the court ruling on retroactive action in permits isn’t reversed, but Sierra Club spokesman Ed Hopkins in Washington disagreed, saying, “It’s entirely speculative and contrary to 40 years of experience to suggest that the EPA is suddenly going to start using this authority indiscriminately.”

A day after the ruling, Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., announced a bipartisan measure in the Senate that would thwart the EPA’s efforts to remove a mining permit once it had been approved.

“Spruce had been negotiated over 10 years with EPA,” Rahall said. “Ten years!

“The company should have felt some sense of confidence in long-term planning and once they got confidence, they go forward.”

Rahall pointed out he managed to steer a similar bill as the one Manchin and Rockefeller are backing, through the House last year, but it never was taken up in the Senate.

Soon, the congressman said, he will revive his initial bill, that is “very comparable, if not identical” to his original one.

Rahall already has discussed the legislation with a key House leader, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and expects him to move quickly in getting it out to the floor for a vote.

“He knows of my strong interest in this,” Rahall added.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Local News
  • derby dames Beckley area Derby Dames to host WFTDA team Aug. 9

    The Beckley Area Derby Dames will face off against a WFTDA-certified team, the Harrisonburg, Va., Rocktown Rollers, Aug. 9 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • phil roop Artisans show off skills at String Band Festival

    The Appalachian String Band Festival celebrates the music of the mountains each year.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Calendar — Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

    August 1, 2014

  • VA clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    August 1, 2014

  • Beckley festival seeking vendors

    Taste of Appalachia is seeking restaurants, vendors, organizations and churches to participate in the Aug. 23 event. 

    August 1, 2014

  • 080114 FRI TWV multitalented teen.jpg Only 13, Shady Spring and TWV teen has big resume

    Well-rounded is an understatement for 13-year-old Rachel McNeel. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 080114 ST.FrancisTeens.jpg Rummage sale to help teens attend WYD

    Young people at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church will be sponsoring a rummage sale at the church today and Saturday. The sale will help raise money to send the young folks to World Youth Day in Poland to meet Pope Francis.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tamarack lists weekend events

    Tamarack Events Director Kelly Elkins invites everyone to pay a visit to the Best of West Virginia this weekend for free music, a farmer’s market and live artisan demonstrations. 

    August 1, 2014

  • New River CTC celebrates move to new campus

    New River Community and Technical College personnel greeted new neighbors Thursday with cookies and lemonade as furniture was moved into their institution’s new Mercer Street campus in the former First Community Bank building.

    August 1, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014