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McGinley : U.S. Supreme Court Unlikely to Take Mingo Logan Coal Case

UPDATE – 3/24/14: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Mingo Logan Coal Company v. Environmental Protection Agency

WVU Law professor Patrick McGinley recently told Law360 that chances are slim that the United States Supreme Court will take on a controversial coaling mining permit case. 

In April this year, the D.C. Circuit ruled against Mingo Logan Coal, finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had the authority to modify portions of a Clean Water Act permit issued to the company for its Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va.

The permit was initially granted in 2007 by the Army Corps of Engineers for the mountain top removal mine that would discharge fill into two nearby streams. Three years later, the EPA withdrew the use of the two streams as disposal sites.

Mingo Logan Coal says the D.C. Circuit ruling gives too much authority to the EPA and jeopardizes any project across the county that requires a Clean Water Act permit. Those projects represent an annual investment of $220 billion, according to the petitioners.

However, McGinley told Law360 that a single enforcement action over the four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed won’t do much to unsettle the markets and will not draw the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Once in 40 years isn’t at the level of an important federal question that the court generally reviews,” McGinley told Law360.


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