A federal judge on Sept. 16 rejected a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency motion to dismiss a March 24 lawsuit by coal producer Murray Energy that accuses the agency of not taking into account job losses from its various regulations impacting coal-fired power plants.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, where several Murray Energy coal mines are located and where coal-fired power plant shutdowns by FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) have occurred over the past couple of years.
EPA had moved to dismiss the complaint, lodged particularly against Gina McCarthy as Administrator of the EPA, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The lawsuit said that McCarthy has violated a mandate for continuing evaluations of potential loss orshifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of the Clean Air Act and applicable implementation plans, including where appropriate, investigating threatened plant closures or reductions in employment allegedly resulting from such administration or enforcement.
Wrote Judge John Preston Bailey in his Sept. 16 decision: “The statute states that the ‘Administrator shall conduct continuing evaluations….’ While the EPA may have discretion as to the timing of such evaluations, it does not have the discretion to categorically refuse to conduct any such evaluations, which is the allegation of the plaintiffs.”
The judge added: “This Court finds that, at this stage of the proceedings, the plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to provide this Court with the jurisdiction to hear this case under § 304 of the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction shall be denied.”