Permit delays could mean layoffs and mine closures

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today’s decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withhold 79 pending coal mine permits is a reckless act that coupled with the agency’s decision earlier this week to re-evaluate a two-year old permit, will jeopardize jobs and further restrict West Virginia production.

“This decision by the Obama Administration and the EPA, clearly shows the arrogance and lack of concern they feel about the lives and livelihoods of West Virginia coal miners and their families,” said Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “We cannot mine coal without permits and we cannot expect companies to invest in mining operations when they have no idea when or if they will ever be able to recover a ton of coal from the ground.”

Hamilton said as mining companies come to the end of current permitted operations, they will need these permits and others to continue mining, open new operations and provide employment for our people.

In a decision announced today, EPA said it will continue to “review” all 79 pending surface mining permits (23 of which were in West Virginia) that were subjected to additional review this past summer. Agency officials had previously said they would have a decision on the permits by this past Tuesday.

“This is an assault on the coal industry – plain and simple – and the result will likely be pain and hardship for the people of West Virginia,” he said. “This comes at time when the nation’s economy is only beginning to see some signs of improvement.  Does that make any sense to you? It doesn’t to me.”