The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 26, 2013

Rockefeller, Manchin among sponsors of bill barring EPA from reversing decisions

From Staff Reports

—  A bipartisan effort in the Senate, inspired by a court ruling this week against a proposed mountaintop mine operation in West Virginia, would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from retroactively killing permits.

The measure comes on the heels of an appeals court’s edict that said the EPA was within its rights to cancel a permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County.

Joining Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., in sponsoring the bill were Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., John Hoeven, R-N.C., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and David Vitter, R-La.

“For too long, the EPA has overreached with its power at the cost of countless American jobs and critical investments,” Manchin said in a statement released by his office.

Manchin said it is vital that American businesses have a degree of certainty in trying to rebound from a sluggish market.

“It is simply common sense to allow companies that already have been granted permits to finish the work they have started,” he said.

“We simply cannot afford to stifle energy production and good-paying jobs. It is fundamentally wrong for any bureaucratic agency to regulate what has not been legislated.”

Manchin said “absolute power” handed to a government agency would have “a chilling effect on investment and job creation far beyond our great state of West Virginia.”

Rockefeller suggested it is wrong to reverse a decision once it has been reached by the federal government.

“Our workers and businesses need to have that certainty to be able to do their jobs,” Rockefeller said.

The senator said the EPA is charged with protecting health and water quality.

“But with Spruce mine we have seen the agency try to reverse a permit years after it was issued,” he said.

“Such unnecessary uncertainty undermines confidence in permits issued by the government.”