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Committee Leaders Announce Plans to Mark Up Legislation to Push Back on EPA Regulatory Overreach

Washington, DC, Mar 25 | Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not review a 2013 Appeals Court decision that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not exceed its power when it stripped the Spruce No. 1 Mine of a permit for a large mountaintop mine in West Virginia.

In response to the decision, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) announced that they would take action.

“The EPA took the extraordinary action of revoking a federal permit which had been issued years prior, setting a disturbing precedent that could impact the entire American economy,” said Shuster. “If the EPA can be allowed to retroactively take away a permit for a coal mine, there could be nothing to stop them from doing so at any other mine, construction site or manufacturing plant. What good is a permit if it can be revoked at any time?  Changing the rules once a project has started creates absolute uncertainty that will be devastating to our economic growth and competiveness, and puts billions of dollars in investments and thousands of jobs in jeopardy.”

“How can an agency be allowed to revoke a permit when no violation of the terms of the permit has occurred?” said Gibbs.  “EPA set a dangerous precedent and has created uncertainty for investors.  Who would be willing to invest in a project when they know that the EPA could revoke their permit at any time without just cause?”

Shuster added, “In the coming weeks, the Committee will take action and consider targeted legislation to address this critical issue.  The EPA has been given unprecedented powers by the Obama Administration.  This regulatory overreach spearheaded by an imperial presidency must be stopped.”

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Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not review a 2013 Appeals Court decision that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not exceed its power when it stripped the Spruce No. 1 Mine of a permit for a large mountaintop mine in West Virginia.

In response to the decision, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) announced that they would take action.

“The EPA took the extraordinary action of revoking a federal permit which had been issued years prior, setting a disturbing precedent that could impact the entire American economy,” said Shuster. “If the EPA can be allowed to retroactively take away a permit for a coal mine, there could be nothing to stop them from doing so at any other mine, construction site or manufacturing plant. What good is a permit if it can be revoked at any time?  Changing the rules once a project has started creates absolute uncertainty that will be devastating to our economic growth and competiveness, and puts billions of dollars in investments and thousands of jobs in jeopardy.”

“How can an agency be allowed to revoke a permit when no violation of the terms of the permit has occurred?” said Gibbs.  “EPA set a dangerous precedent and has created uncertainty for investors.  Who would be willing to invest in a project when they know that the EPA could revoke their permit at any time without just cause?”

Shuster added, “In the coming weeks, the Committee will take action and consider targeted legislation to address this critical issue.  The EPA has been given unprecedented powers by the Obama Administration.  This regulatory overreach spearheaded by an imperial presidency must be stopped.”

In 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Clean Water Act permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine project. EPA raised objections prior to that, but allowed the permit to go forward. However, in September 2009, the Obama Administration informed the Corps it planned to revoke parts of the permit, and finalized the revocation in January 2011.  A district court judge issued an opinion in 2012 that accused the EPA of resorting to “magical thinking” to justify its logic for retroactively vetoing the project. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned that ruling last April. With the Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case, the appeals court decision stands.

More information about Shuster and Gibbs’ plans to address this issue will be announced at a later date.

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