WV Coal Member Meeting 2024 1240x200 1 1

Spruce Mine Permit Op-Ed by Bill Raney

The EPA has declared a war on Appalachian Coal. The agency’s apparent intent to rescind the already issued Spruce Mine permit is the first time the agency has ever taken such an action and shows a reckless disregard for the impact on our people, on future investment in our region and even for basic fairness.

This action threatens the very future of mining in our state and region… not just mountaintop mining operations or even surface mining … but all forms of mining and with it the futures of the 50,000 West Virginia and 80,000 Appalachian families whose livelihoods depend on coal. We call upon our Congressional representatives, our local and state elected officials and everyone concerned about the future of our state and our region to let the EPA and the Obama Administration know this effort to destroy the Eastern coal industry must come to a stop. We call upon the EPA and the Obama Administration to LEGALIZE COAL!

WVCA Statements Concerning EPA’s Proposed Revocation of the Spruce Mine Permit

Statement of Jason D. Bostic
West Virginia Coal Association
Concerning EPA’s Proposed Revocation of the Spruce Mine Permit

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight and thank you for attentiveness to this issue.
Briefly touch on some technical aspects of the Spruce Mine and your agency’s actions to revoke a three year-old permit.
First, I think it is beyond argument that any action by EPA to revoke the Spruce Mine permit fails the statutory test and parameters of authority that are granted to your agency under Section 404(c) of the federal Clean Water Act.  EPA. Has in fact admitted as much when it confessed that over the 38 year course of its existence it has never sought to revoke an issued permit.
EPA’s action relative to the Spruce permit should have occurred when the Corps issued the permit… some three years ago.  But EPA did not take such actions, and in fact complimented the Corps and the Company on the actions is has taken to bring the permit to fruition.
So, what has changed in three years since the Spruce permit was issued?

Previous Statements

This federal bureaucracy is misleading, and is adding excessive red tape that is affecting people’s livelihoods. Government should be a facilitator and partner, not a hindrance to Americans working to obtain the American Dream – and that is to have a good job, make a decent wage and provide for their family.”Gov. Joe Manchin, West Virginia.

“[A]t some point, a project must be deemed to have been studied enough to meet NEPA’s requirements. This is the most heavily studied and scrutinized surface mining coal operation in the history of a state which has a long history with the coal mining industry.”
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
“The WVDEP is committed to the application of the existing laws, rules and policies to protect the environment. … It does not support retroactive, ad hoc departures from existing laws rules and guidelines.”  - West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

“There are 250 jobs at risk in that mine. The Spruce #1 permit has been in operation over two years and Arch has worked hard to comply with every request from the EPA. If this veto is allowed to stand then any mine permit is at risk.  There is a possible $150 million in taxes, miners wages and payments to suppliers and area businesses at stake if this permit is allowed to be stopped permanently,”
  -  Sen. Ron D. Stollings, (D-Boone, Logan, Lincoln)

“This decision by EPA is reckless and arbitrary. It establishes a dangerous precedent in that it reneges on an already approved permit --- something that has never been done previously. In doing so, 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.” - Bill Raney, president, West Virginia Coal Association

Hearing Photos



As the most carefully scrutinized and fully considered mine permit in West Virginia's history, the Spruce No. 1 permit was legally issued in 2007. The nearly 10-year permitting process included the preparation of a full environmental impact statement. The EPA was intimately involved in the preparation and approval of the Spruce permit, making today’s news even more difficult to understand. - Arch Coal

The Facts

  • At full production the mine would employ 235 miners and create another 300 indirect and induced jobs in the area.
  • The jobs created by the Spruce permit would be high-paying, long-term employment opportunities.  These jobs would pay approximately $70,000 annually with full benefits.
  • Total economic impact of this operation is estimated at approximately $15 0 million annually.
  • The Spruce operation is projected to produce approximately  …..
  • The permit is the most scrutinized mining permit in history  in West Virginia or the Appalachian region.
  • During the permit’s 10 year review, the original mine design and production levels were significantly reduced to address the concerns of the EPA -- for example, the final permitted acreage was reduced by 27 percent and the fill placement was reduced by 57 percent. Total recoverable reserves of coal were reduced by 10.6 million tons as a result.
  • The Spruce mine permit was issued in June 1007. Coal production has commenced and the initial workforce has been hired and is working.
  • EPA participated along with the other agencies every step of the way during the permit’s 10 year review and had previously praised the company’s efforts to redesign the application.
  • If the EPA revokes the Spruce permit, it will be the first time such an action has been taken on a mining project and only the 14th time the EPA has exercised that option since the program was created in 1972.
  • It is an unprecedented action to revoke a permit that has already been issued and production, employment and investment has been mobilized.
  • A decision by the EPA to revoke an issued permit will forever cast doubt over the validity of any permit obtained anywhere in West Virginia for any industry -- not just coal mining!
  • The EPA has continued to delay a decision on whether or not to revoke the permit ... It has had more than enough time to make its decision and should not delay any longer. Further delay on an official decision allows the EPA to pocket veto the permit by doing nothing.
  • EPA’s concerns regarding the Spruce Mine have been addressed by the State of West Virginia through its environmental programs. The fact that EPA continues to disregard these conclusions is further evidence that the agency has no respect for the state’s environmental programs or the  sovereignty of the Legislature to promulgate environmental protection standards.