Rockefeller Condemns EPA Decision to Begin Veto Process on Spruce Mine Permit in West Virginia

October 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee again expressed anger as the EPA took further steps today to revoke the permit for Spruce Number 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.
“I am angry with the EPA’s announcement that they will use veto power to revoke the authorized Spruce Mine permit in Logan,” said Senator Rockefeller.  “It is wrong and unfair for the EPA to change the rules for a permit that is already active.
“When businesses make good faith efforts and fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations, they must have the confidence that the commitments made by the government will be honored. I am very frustrated with this development and will continue to be in contact with EPA officials – making sure that the EPA recognizes the importance of this issue in West Virginia.”
  • The Spruce Number 1 Mine permit was reviewed by the Corps of Engineers for nearly ten years before being approved in January 2007, and has been active for over two years. 
  • To satisfy initial EPA concerns, the final permit reduced the acreage of the permit by 835 acres or 27 percent and excess spoil by 150 million cubic yards, a 57 percent decrease.
  • EPA Region III sent a letter on September 3, 2009 to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking the Corps to reevaluate the Spruce 1 Mine permit.
  • On September 10, Senator Rockefeller wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing his concern about the EPA’s request to suspend or revoke the already approved surface mining permit for the Spruce Number 1 Mine.
  • On September 30, 2009 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the EPA stating that they did not agree with the concerns laid out by the EPA’s September 3rd letter add would not alter the permit.
  • The EPA has only used this veto authority 12 times since 1972 and only once since 1990.