CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The coal industry has so far shown an "utter lack" of harm to mine operators in its efforts to block the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal, lawyers for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week.
EPA lawyers urged U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to turn down a request from the National Mining Association for a preliminary injunction.
The industry group is suing over EPA's more detailed review of Clean Water Act permits for surface coal mining and the agency's tougher new water quality guidance for the coal industry.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and the Kentucky Coal Association have filed similar lawsuits, as coalfield political leaders and the industry challenge the EPA's efforts to reduce the environmental impacts from mountaintop removal in Appalachia.
In its case, pending in federal court in Washington, the mining association asked Walton for a preliminary injunction, a court order that would require the industry to show irreparable harm if the injunction isn't issued.
EPA lawyers responded by pointing out that the mining association pointed only to two examples of companies whose situations the group says meet the legal standard necessary for an injunction.
One company is an Alabama mining firm that says delays caused by EPA may put it out of business in 18 months if new permits it seeks are not approved.