The coal industry announced that it will sue the Obama administration over plans to regulate surface coal mining, according to a report in the Associated Press.
According to the report, the National Mining Association names both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which it says are illegally preventing its members from obtaining mining permits in Appalachia. Many new permits have received more careful review since 2009, according to the report. Almost 200 permits have been held up since the Obama administration came to office.
The EPA recently announced new regulations for mountaintop removal in April, in an effort to prevent damage to watersheds. It said its actions were consistent with both the law and current science, according to a Reuters report.
The report quotes the NMA as saying the industry is being held to an arbitrary standard.
The move is part of a larger conflict over the practice of mountaintop removal in coal mining. Bank of America recently said it would cease lending to coal companies that us the practice. Mining companies argue that the practice is highly efficient, while opponents argue that it is also highly destructive.
According to a report in the West Virginia Gazette, there is a growing scientific consensus that the practice causes irreparable damage to both water sources and forests. Mountaintop removal includes disposing of unwanted material in streams and rivers. The practice can lead to the introduction of mining pollutants into the local water supply, in addition to harming aquatic life.
The lawsuit states that the EPA should have solicited public comment on its new rules before putting them into effect, and is seeking to block their enforcement.