The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had the legal authority to retroactively veto a water pollution permit for one of West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal coal mines years after it was issued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed a lower court's ruling in a case that has economic implications across coal country and potentially the nation. The case goes back to U.S. District Court for further proceedings.
The appellate court directed Judge Amy Berman Jackson to address the coal industry's argument that the EPA's action was an "arbitrary and capricious" violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, an issue she has not previously ruled on.
The holder of the permit, St. Louis-based Arch Coal, said it was disappointed in the ruling, but downplayed it as being "related to procedural aspects" of the case.