Despite the current administration’s few remaining opportunities to fulfill a promise to bankrupt coal-fired power plants, Appalachia is successfully deflecting these onslaughts in courts of laws. Over the past month, there have been at least three examples of the EPA being exposed for trampling over the states’ constitutional rights.
First, the lawsuit originally filed in 2010 by Kentucky and other coal groups has finally been settled, and the hand that was raised was the one fighting for state sovereignty over Kentucky’s energy sector. This lawsuit was over the EPA’s insistence on vetoing no less than 45 mining permits after they were already approved by state officials. The basis for this move was that conductivity levels in nearby waterways were deemed too high by the EPA, allegedly endangering local ecosystems. The federal judge ruled that the EPA overstepped its boundaries and “infringed on the authority afforded state regulators by those statutes.”
The second instance comes in nearby West Virginia, where a federal judge ruled that the EPA again overstepped its bounds in blocking permits for Spruce No. 1 mine, one of the largest in Appalachia. Surprise, surprise.
And most recently, a new piece of regulation – that would have gone into effect in January and sent electricity rates in Kentucky skyrocketing – has also been deemed illegal by a federal appeals court in D.C. It’s called the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and it would have unilaterally forced unprecedented emissions standards on upwind states. The targets were the usual suspects: Kentucky, West Virginia, and Appalachian regions.
As one federal judge noted, this is not simply a matter of protecting Kentucky’s verdant landscapes or ecological system. There’s also the matter of protecting the livelihood of entire communities whose economies depend on the black rock, communities that are being unnaturally ruined by regulators on a rampage.