Today’s Court Ruling on West Virginia Mine Could Have Silver Lining

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2013 — William Yeatman, an energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sees a possible silver lining to today’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to retroactively revoke a Clean Water Act permit that had been issued to the Mingo Logan Coal Company for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia. While Yeatman disagrees with the ruling, he welcomes the scrutiny of the science behind EPA’s veto that will likely result from today’s decision.

“The Appeals Court found that EPA has the authority to retroactively veto the Spruce No. 1 Mine, but it did not rule on whether EPA’s veto was reasonable,” Yeatman explained. “It left that decision to a lower court. As a result, the science behind EPA’s veto soon is likely to be put on trial.”

Yeatman, who authored a 2011 audit of EPA’s scientific justification for the Spruce No. 1 Mine veto, predicted that EPA’s victory today would prove Pyrrhic:

EPA claims that birds, fish, and amphibians would be unduly harmed by the Spruce No. 1 Mine, but such assertions are either scientifically unfounded or legally irrelevant. When all the hyperbole is stripped away, EPA’s only ‘evidence’ to justify its actions is a putative threat posed by saline effluent from the mine to an order of short-lived insects, which aren’t even an endangered species. This is plainly unreasonable: EPA shouldn’t be trading jobs for bugs absent a Congressional mandate to do so.

>>  Read William Yeatman’s 2011 study on the shoddy science behind EPA’s retroactive veto of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit: “EPA Guilty of Environmental Hyperbole in Mountaintop Mining Veto