Vitter, Manchin author bill to limit EPA authority on Section 404 permits

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Sen. Joe Manchin D-W. Va., introduced on March 25 the “Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014,” which would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in reviewing Clean Water Act (CWA) permits.

The bill would prohibit EPA from preemptive or retroactively vetoing a permit under Section 404 of the Act.

“The Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014 would give American businesses a fair shot at going through the process of building or mining without having to worry about politics getting in the way,” said Vitter. “After seeing the EPA grossly overstep on established permitting procedures, it’s clear that this legislation is necessary to prevent a serious disincentive to investing in America and distinctly state what the EPA can and cannot do.”

This bill introduction comes one day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up a lower court ruling that upheld EPA’s authority to veto a Section 404 permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Mingo Logan Coal unit of Arch Coal. The EPA threw out a permit covering the 2,278-acre Spuce No. 1 strip mine in Logan County, W.Va., saying the mine would have too high an environmental impact.

Vitter and Manchin have previously teamed up to defend the Mingo Logan project. They in August 2013 asked the EPA to provide reasons for revoking the Mingo Logan permit. This new “Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014” would also prevent the agency from preemptively vetoing Clean Water Act permits in the case of the Pebble non-coal mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.