Over the past two weeks the federal EPA has mobilized a new war on West Virginia coal…  First, it announced its intent to revoke a permit issued over three years ago and just yesterday it released ridiculous guidance on water standards that Mother Nature will be hard pressed to meet.  Either of these actions is enough to cause grave concern to the working men and women in the coal industry and across the state.  Together, they represent perhaps the most serious challenge we have ever confronted to our way life and the way we earn our living.  They are every bit as serious and threatening as the federal court decisions of the past.
We have every intention of opposing these actions to the best of our abilities and will certainly need your support and assistance.
Don’t let EPA’s rosy press statements mislead you:  This is not about Water Quality, Mountaintop Mining, or Surface Mining Its About Coal, Jobs and the People of West Virginia.
Yesterday, in conjunction with the release of new “standards” that would apply to coal mines in Appalachia, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency’s actions were not about ending coal mining.  This statement effectively demonstrates that EPA doesn’t understand the issues or simply doesn’t care.  The ridiculous standards offered by the agency will apply to all forms of coal mining- from the largest surface mine to the smallest underground mine and everything in between.   These pseudo-standards are so unrealistic that no form of land development could satisfy them.  They are designed to protect a certain species of BUGS, yes that’s right, BUGS, little critters that reside for part of their life in small ephemeral and intermittent drains, or what EPA declares to be “streams”.  
The so-called “guidance” is effective immediately and represents a total disregard for the established, decades-old, Congressionally-sanctioned process for developing true water quality standards.  EPA has offered draft studies that represent the conclusions of their own staff but fully expect individual states to endorse and adopt these standards.  In West Virginia, water quality standards are proposed by the agency, subject to a rigorous public notice and comment process and then submitted to the Legislature.  Once they’re approved by the Legislature, they have to be signed by the Governor.  Obviously this EPA “guidance” affords no deference or respect to these procedures.  And while EPA likes to talk about “transparency”, this latest move from the agency is anything but transparent.  No advance notice of rulemaking, no public hearings, none of the very things that are intended under the Clean Water Act to insure a robust exchange of ideas and information regarding water quality standards.  There has been no opportunity to weigh the benefits of these pseudo-standards against their potential economic and social impacts.  And while EPA Administrator Jackson took the time to personally brief national anti-coal organizations on the “guidance” yesterday in a specially-arranged conference call for what EPA called “stakeholders”, briefing for the coal industry was left to EPA staff level bureaucrats and no such outreach or briefing was afforded to the working coal miners of West Virginia.
EPA intends this new policy to apply only to six Appalachian coal states and then only to coal mining operations within those states.  The federal agency knows full well that activities in other parts of the country and other activities within Appalachia will have the same results as coal mining.  Yet, these pseudo-standards are directed only at coal mining.  This fact alone serves to illustrate the arbitrary and capricious nature in which EPA has targeted West Virginia coal mining and West Virginia coal miners with their recent actions.   
The actions of EPA yesterday- the issuance of guidance from bureaucrats that circumvents the real rulemaking process coupled with the actions to revoke a two-year old permit at the Spruce No. 1 mine should serve as a wake up call to everyone in Appalachia and West Virginia that EPA intends to severely restrict coal mining and by extension reduce employment, state revenue and the vital social and welfare programs that are provided by the coal industry through severance and other tax collections. 
We are developing additional information on these topics and will advise all members of Friends of Coal when it is available and posted.