Final authority to issue, oversee and enforce permits issued under section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) lies solely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, not the EPA, Arch Coal argues in a 175-page response to the EPA’s appeal. The document was filed with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on September 4.

In March, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled the EPA had overreached in the case of the 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, a ruling praised by industry and the politicians who support it. During January 2011, the EPA revoked a permit that the Corps had issued four years earlier to Arch and its Mingo Logan Coal Co. subsidiary. The EPA concluded that destructive and unsustainable mining practices would cause irreparable environmental damage and threaten the health of communities nearby.

It was only the 13th time since 1972 that the EPA had used its veto authority and the first time it had acted on a previously permitted mine. Hundreds of jobs were lost when the EPA rescinded the permit.