by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

MORGANTOWN, WV (HNN) – Maintaining their determination first addressed in their preliminary decision, the Environmental Agency revoked the permit for one of the state’s largest strip mines.

The government agency formalized what it had previously concluded i.e. that Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan  County, would bring “destructive and unsustainable” mining procedures which would disrupt the natural habitats  of small to medium sized WV Appalachian counties.

Janet Keating, of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition , made the following statement supporting the EPA:

We breathe a huge sigh of relief today and we thank the EPA and the Obama Administration for enforcing the Clean Water Act. We are so pleased that this historic veto of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit halts the destruction of Pigeon Roost Hollow. 

Spruce No. 1 is the only individual permit to have undergone a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The science completely validates what we have been saying for more than a decade: These types of mining operations are destroying our streams and forests and nearby residents’ health, and even driving entire communities to extinction. This type of steep slope coal mining is destroying our cultural heritage and our future.  

We will continue our work to halt other illegal permits, both in-progress and pending. These other permits should also be subject to an EIS.

On the other hand, Rep Nick Rahall stated the “veto” reaches beyond one coal mine:

“The EPA’s unprecedented action today to veto a previously granted permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, though highly disconcerting, is far from surprising; Arch, the miners, the community, and I have been opposing this action for months.   This veto reaches well beyond one coal mine; it threatens the economic security of every business that relies upon these Clean Water Act permits and that depends upon a fair and consistent permitting process    While this Administration claims that it will not take similar action on any other permit, there is nothing to prevent it, or any future EPA, from reaching back to veto a previously granted permit now that this line has been crossed.  The good news, if there is any, may be that by EPA’s finalizing this threatened action, the matter can now be taken before the courts, where I hope it will receive a thorough hearing and expeditious reversal.”