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Editorial: EPA Actions Could Kill Jobs Across the State

An editorial in the Beckley Register-Herald this week is another example of the concern being felt across the state as the federal government’s assault on coal mining continues. We believe this editorial should be read by all.

“When one environmental agency looks at what another is doing — and sounds an alarm — it should serve as notice that something is really amiss.

“And while it’s no secret that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is systemically trying to shut down West Virginia as we know it by targeting the mining industry, the concern has expanded to the point where maybe we won’t have any businesses at all due to water quality issues.

“Wednesday, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman told state lawmakers the EPA is considering water quality standards that are so stringent “runoff from a parking lot” would be in violation, let alone operating a strip mine, deep mine or other industrial or farming site.

“The debate is not any longer about mountaintop mining,” Huffman told the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee. “It’s about water quality. It does relate to surface mining, but it relates to underground mining, other types of mining and other types of industrial activity. The driver is water quality and it affects everything we do.

“Discussion on the issue has been essentially nil when it comes to the EPA. Huffman went on to tell lawmakers in Charleston that the EPA has effectively left the West Virginia DEP out of the loop, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, chairs the Senate panel which Huffman addressed, and on Thursday he called the EPA’s actions “unsettling to say the least” and acknowledged that the EPA’s current interpretation of the Clean Water Act is a direct attempt to circumvent the permitting process for mining and other industrial operations.

“At a time when putting American people back to work and creating new jobs is being championed in Washington, it sure seems like stimulating employment opportunities in West Virginia is at the bottom of the current administration’s priority list.”