EPA Denies Permits until additional evaluation

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EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva today finalized the list of 79 Appalachian surface coal mining permits requiring additional review and coordination under the Clean Water Act. EPA’s letter today confirms that all 79 permits initially identified on September 11 must undergo additional evaluation by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. EPA’s final list was transmitted in a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy. The 79 permits represent all of the backlogged surface coal mining projects under review by the Army Corps of Engineers. After a careful evaluation of these surface coal mining projects, EPA determined that each of them, as currently proposed, is likely to result in significant harm to water quality and the environment and are therefore not consistent with requirements of the CWA. EPA and the Corps have developed a joint enhanced coordination process that establishes a schedule and procedures for the evaluation of these 79 permits. The Corps of Engineers is now responsible under the coordination process for beginning the next stage of discussions with EPA and the mining companies to reduce anticipated environmental and water quality impacts. In his letter, Assistant Administrator Silva emphasized that “EPA looks forward to working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, with the involvement of the mining companies, to achieve a resolution of EPA’s concerns that avoids harmful environmental impacts and meets our energy and economic needs.”

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