Murray Wins EPA Lawsuit

A U.S. district judge has ruled in favor of the coal industry and producer Murray Energy Corp. (MEC) in its 2014 suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator, Gina McCarthy, ordering the agency to evaluate the impact its enforcement of the Clean Air Act has had on job losses across the coal community. Judge John Preston Bailey ruled in early October in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia via a 64-page decision that the EPA failed to comply with the Clean Air Act of 1971, specifically Section 321(a), which requires continuous consideration of job losses and displacements caused by implementation of regulations. Much of those efforts on the part of the EPA have been dubbed the “War on Coal” and have taken with them thousands of miners’ jobs across the U.S.

Murray, who sued the agency in March 14 on behalf of all of his subsidiaries, was able to argue successfully that those losses were at the hands of the EPA because it did not follow the rules of the act. The agency had until October 31 to submit a “plan and schedule for compliance with [Section] 321(a) both generally and in the specific area of the effects of its regulations on the coal industry” to the court. “It would be an abuse of discretion for the EPA to refuse to conduct a Section 321(a) evaluation of the effects of its regulations on the coal industry,” he wrote in the order. “EPA cannot redefine statutes to avoid complying with them.”

EPA spokesperson Monica Lee told several national media outlets that the agency is reviewing the decision. MEC Founder and President Robert E. Murray celebrated the suit’s outcome. “The Obama EPA has never complied with this law, and this ruling, today, will finally force them to continuously conduct these vitally important jobs analyses,” Murray said. “This is a great day for coal miners in the United States, and for all citizens who rely on low-cost electricity in America.” Murray called the regulations “senseless and destructive” and pointed out that at least 411 coal-fired power facilities across the country—totaling about 101,000 megawatts of electric power— have either already been closed or have been identified for closure by the EPA.

The National Mining Association (NMA) also hailed the court’s decision. “America’s coal miners scored an important victory today when a federal court told EPA that it could no longer ignore its ongoing responsibility under the Clean Air Act to evaluate the job losses arising from its stream of regulatory actions,” NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn said. “The court properly rebuked EPA for representing that it sufficed for the agency to merely predict impacts but it was under no duty to later verify the actual outcomes. MEC has performed a great service not only for coal miners but all American workers whose jobs are imperiled by unbalanced regulations imposing great costs with little if any measurable benefit.”

As featured in Womp 2016 Vol 11 -