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Murray Energy joins legal fight, files lawsuit over water rule
July 2, 2015

Murray Energy Corp., the country's largest privately owned coal company, announced that it is filing suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the finalized Waters of the U.S. rule.

The suit is being filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

The Hill reported that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers wrote the new rule, which gives the government the power to regulate small bodies of water, such as ponds and wetlands. The regulation means the government could require permits for activities that would pollute those waters.

Opponents of the rule contend, as Murray does, that it gives the government more power than it is granted under the Clean Water Act.

"The Obama EPA's final 'Waters of the United States' rule not only reflects an unprecedented expansion in federal regulatory authority but results in one of the largest land grabs by the federal government in this nation's history," Gary Broadbent, assistant general counsel and media director for Murray Energy, said in a statement.

"Under the Obama EPA's rule, any area that is wet, or has the potential to be wet, would be subject to the Clean Water Act," he said. "Congress clearly did not intend such a radical and illogical outcome."

The government formally published the rule in the Federal Register on Monday, clearing the way for lawsuits against it. So far, 27 states have sued the EPA or the Army Corps over the rule, arguing it infringes on the rights of states or private landowners.

Murray's complaint lays out examples of particular mining sites where it says its operations will be directly affected by the rule.

About 15,000 linear feet of ditches will become jurisdictional at a refuse impoundment site near Fairview, WV, the company said. And 1.88 acres of ponds, as well as other ditches and features, will become automatically jurisdictional at a site in Harrison County, WV the complaint states.

"Complying with the final rule for these features will cost Murray substantial sums of money to apply for, obtain and comply with permit conditions, in lost productivity resulting from an inability to utilize a mine site in an efficient manner, and in a general devaluation of its mine holdings," the company said in a statement.

The final version of the water rule puts a number of key mining features outside of federal jurisdiction, including artificial lakes and ponds built on dry land, as well as water-filled depressions created on dry land tied to mining, construction and other activities.

But mining interests say they were hoping for greater clarity.


 

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