CHARLESTON – Today’s decision by Region III of U.S. EPA  to reaffirm its withdrawal of the permit for the Spruce #1 surface mine continues this administration’s war against Appalachian coal. It reveals an agency willing to put a political agenda ahead of people.

“With this decision the EPA continues down the arrogant and selfish path that puts a radical political agenda ahead of people and the jobs our nation so desperately needs at this time,” said West Virginia Coal President Bill Raney. “As we have said before, this decision establishes a very dangerous precedent in that it reneges on an already approved permit, something that has never been done previously. It brings into question the reliability of the entire permitting process and shows an arrogant disregard for the impacts this will have on the state’s economy and its people.”
The Spruce Mine permit was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers three years ago following six years of work by the WV Department of Environmental Protection, the Corps, the EPA and Arch Coal.

In the course of the permit’s lengthy review, the original mine design and production levels were significantly reduced to address the concerns of the EPA – reducing the amount of recoverable coal and the life of the mine in the process.

“This is the most scrutinized mining permit in the country,” Raney said. “EPA participated at every step of the process and they had previously praised the company’s efforts to redesign the permit application.”

“The decision to revoke the permit violates the sanctity of the legally-established permit process. EPA is pushing the bounds of legality and rationality and unless changed, they threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families across our region.”

At full production the mine would employ 235 miners and create another 300 indirect and induced jobs in the area.

“We had hoped the EPA would reconsider this action,” Raney said. “We had hoped they might recognize the damage their war against Appalachian coal is having on the people of our state and region. At public hearings hundreds of people made their voices clear, “Give us jobs!”

“It is obvious the EPA is deaf to the sound of anything other than its own voice. The people of our state … our hard-working coal miners and the people of our country deserve better.

As Governor Manchin said in his State of the State Address this past January, “Our coal miners aren’t asking for a handout. They are just asking for the ability to work!”

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