Justice John Preston Bailey ruled Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia via a 64-page decision that the EPA failed to comply with the Clean Air Act of 1971, specifically Section 321(a), which requires continuous consideration of job losses and displacements caused by implementation of regulations.
Much of those efforts on the part of the EPA have been dubbed the “war on coal” and have taken with them thousands of miners’ jobs across the U.S.
Murray, who sued the agency on March 14 on behalf of all of his subsidiaries, was able to argue successfully that those losses were at the hands of the EPA because it did not follow the rules of the act. The agency now has until October 31 to submit a “plan and schedule for compliance with [Section] 321(a) both generally and in the specific area of the effects of its regulations on the coal industry” to the court.
“It would be an abuse of discretion for the EPA to refuse to conduct a Section 321(a) evaluation of the effects of its regulations on the coal industry,” he wrote in the order. “EPA cannot redefine statutes to avoid complying with them.”
EPA spokesperson Monica Lee told several national media outlets that the agency is reviewing the decision.
MEC Founder and President Robert E. Murray celebrated the suit’s outcome.
“The Obama EPA has never complied with this law, and this ruling, today, will finally force them to continuously conduct these vitally important jobs analyses.
“This is a great day for coal miners in the United States, and for all citizens who rely on low-cost electricity in America. We will continue to vigorously pursue this lawsuit, and all of our litigation initiatives, in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of coal miners and their families, to defend the rule of law, and to preserve reliable and low cost electricity in our country.”
Murray called the regulations “senseless and destructive, with absolutely no regard for their job and family destruction,” and pointed out that at least 411 coal-fired power facilities across the country — totaling about 101,000 megawatts of electric power — have either already been closed or have been identified for closure by the EPA.
“[T]here will be virtually no environmental benefit from these radical EPA regulations. Further, tens of thousands of coal miners have been put out of work, and their families are suffering. We are fighting to protect these workers, who only want to work in honor and dignity.”
The National Mining Association (NMA) also hailed the court’s decision.
“America’s coal miners scored an important victory today when a federal court told EPA that it could no longer ignore its ongoing responsibility under the Clean Air Act to evaluate the job losses arising from its stream of regulatory actions,” NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn said.
“The court properly rebuked EPA for representing that it sufficed for the agency to merely predict impacts but it was under no duty to later verify the actual outcomes. Murray Energy Corp. has performed a great service not only for coal miners but all American workers whose jobs are imperiled by unbalanced regulations imposing great costs with little if any measurable benefit.”
A copy of Bailey’s October 17 decision can be viewed here.