The EPA’s final determination on the Spruce mine comes after discussions with the company spanning more than a year failed to produce an agreement that would lead to a significant decrease in impacts to the environment and Appalachian communities. The action prevents the mine from disposing of the waste into streams unless the company identifies an alternative mining design that would avoid irreversible damage to water quality and meets the requirements of the law.

“The EPA’s veto of an existing, valid permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine threatens the certainty of all Section 404 permits—weakening the trust U.S. businesses and workers need to make investments and secure jobs,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO, National Mining Association. “The Spruce permit was issued after a robust 10-year review, including an exhaustive Environmental Impact Statement. The EPA participated fully in the comprehensive permitting process, and the project has abided by every permit requirement.

“The EPA has taken this unprecedented action—never before contemplated in the nearly 40 years since the enactment of the Clean Water Act—at a time of great economic uncertainty. The  NMA urges the administration to step back from this unwarranted action and restore trust in the sanctity of lawfully granted and abided by permits and the jobs and economic activity they support,” said Quinn.