Read the lawsuit on Coal Tattoo.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection filed suit today in federal court to try to stop the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal coal mining across Appalachia.
Private lawyers hired by DEP filed the suit just hours after Gov. Joe Manchin announced the planned litigation during a press conference at the state Capitol.
Manchin, in the midst of an increasing tough race for the U.S. Senate, said the suit is aimed at stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "attempts to destroy the coal-mining industry and our way of life."
"The state has worked as hard as it could to resolve these issues with EPA without resorting to litigation," Manchin told reporters. "It's a shame when you have to take action against your own government, but sometimes it has to be done."
The 52-page lawsuit targets EPA's tougher reviews of Clean Water Act permits for mining operations and the federal agency's new water quality guidance aimed at reducing pollution from coal-mining sites.
It alleges EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson wrongly implemented both programs without first subjecting them to public notice and comment, challenging not the substance of the EPA crackdown, but the process used by the Obama administration to implement it.
"With these actions, EPA and the Corps have demonstrated a brazen disrespect for the notice-and-comment rulemaking that forms the backbone of proper regulatory action by giving the states and interested parties an opportunity to comment upon proposed rules before implementation," the suit states.
EPA released a statement in response, saying that state officials "have not engaged in a meaningful discussion of sustainable mining practices that will create jobs while protecting the waters that Appalachian communities depend on for drinking, swimming and fishing."
"EPA continues to be willing to work with industry to reach common sense agreements allowing them to mine coal while avoiding permanent environmental impacts and protecting water quality," said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan.
Manchin invited officials from the West Virginia Coal Association and the United Mine Workers union to his press conference, and thanked both organizations for their support in fighting EPA.