CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mining giant Arch Coal Inc. fired back at the Obama administration Friday, filing suit against the government in one federal court and filing a strongly worded brief in another to protest the potential veto of the largest mountaintop-removal coal-mining permit in West Virginia history.
St. Louis-based Arch argues in the federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn't have the authority to revoke a Clean Water Act permit once it has been issued.
And in U.S. District Court in Huntington, lawyers for Arch's Mingo Logan subsidiary argued against a motion by the government seeking more time to allow the EPA to complete the formal process to veto the permit.
"Enough!" said the first line of the brief filed on behalf of Mingo Logan by Charleston lawyer Bob McLusky.
McLusky argued that federal officials have delayed long enough a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers on a request by Mingo Logan to throw out a citizen suit that seeks to block the Spruce Mine.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials approved the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County three years ago. The permit has been tied up in court since then in a case brought by environmentalists who oppose the operation.
A week ago, EPA officials issued a proposed determination that starts a formal process for their agency to intervene and veto the corps-approved Clean Water Act permit.
The Spruce Mine has been at the heart of the mountaintop-removal battle since that fight began more than a decade ago, and all sides have been watching it closely for an indication of how strongly the Obama administration wants to force changes in the practice.