Clean Water Act

Post image for EPA’s War on Transparency

Barack Obama swept into the Presidency promising a new political order, one characterized by “transparency” and “openness.” Three years later, the President’s lofty campaign promises are belied by the Environmental Protection Agency’s record of suppression.

Federal agencies cannot issue regulations willy-nilly; rather, they are bound to rules stipulating administrative procedure, in order to ensure the voice of affected parties is heard. Obama’s EPA, however, evinces a troubling tendency to circumvent these procedural rules. Regulated entities are being subjected to controversial, onerous regimes, before they even have the opportunity to read the rules, much less voice an objection. The wayward Agency is exercising an unanswerable power, straight out of a Kafka novella.

[click to continue…]

Post image for Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” Campaign Is Beyond the Pale

Last Thursday, the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee held a hearing on “Environmental Protection Agency Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachia.” Video and written testimony are available here. For detailed descriptions of the EPA’s outrageous war on Appalachian coal production, click here, here, or here. Suffice it to say, EPA has subverted the Administrative Procedures Act to enact a de facto moratorium on mining. It engineered a new Clean Water Act “pollutant,” saline effluent, which the EPA claims degrades water quality downstream from mines by harming a short lived insect that isn’t an endangered species. The hearing on Thursday was part 1; this Wednesday, the subcommittee is scheduled to hear from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

I attended the hearing, and at the media table, I picked up a Sierra Club “Beyond Coal Campaign” press release, by Director Mary Anne Hitt. It is an excellent window into the lying and exaggerations frequently employed by environmental extremists in order to demonize coal. Below, I reprint the entire press release, sentence by sentence (in bold), each followed by a rebuttal (in italics).

Sierra Club: “This Committee’s leadership is trying to stack the deck against Appalachian miners, families and businesses.”

Stacking the deck!? This is absurd. To be sure, all four witnesses before the Subcommittee were opposed to the EPA’s war on Appalachian coal, but that was by BIPARTISAN agreement. Indeed, the only Democrat to show up was Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), the Ranking Member of the full Committee, who opposes the EPA’s machinations more than Republicans, due to the fact that his State is the largest coal producer in Appalachia, and is, therefore, harmed most.

[click to continue…]

Post image for Primer: President Obama’s War on Domestic Energy Production


Clean Water Act: The EPA has invented a “pollutant”— salinity—in order to stop surface coal mining in Appalachia.  It claims that this “pollutant” harms an order of short-lived insect, the Mayfly, which has not been proposed for listing as an endangered species.  The EPA has set a numeric water quality standard for salinity which effectively bars new surface coal mining permits.

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act: Despite the fact that the 1977 SMCRA explicitly authorizes “valley fills” (a necessary byproduct of surface coal mining in the steep terrain of Appalachia), the Department of the Interior is working on a re-interpretation of the so-called “100 feet buffer rule,” a regulation derivative of SMCRA, which would effectively outlaw valley fills, and, as a result, Appalachian surface coal mining.

Oil and gas

Red Tape: The de jure moratorium on deepwater drilling permits in the Western Gulf ended on 22 October 2011, but the de facto moratorium remains.  Two weeks ago, a federal judge in eastern Louisiana (the same one who overturned the first moratorium, and who then found the Department of the Interior in contempt for issuing an identical, second moratorium), ordered the Interior Department to act on 5 pending permits within 30 days.  Interior is also slow-walking shallow water permits.

[click to continue…]