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Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20071
Nos. 10-0541, (D.D.C., 03/23/2012) (Jackson)

A district court held that EPA exceeded its authority under CWA §404(c) when it invalidated an existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineer permit authorizing a mining company to discharge fill material from its mountaintop coal mine into two nearby streams. Specifically, EPA withdrew the specification of those two streams as disposal sites, effectively nullifying the permit. The court ruled that the CWA does not give EPA the power to render a permit invalid once it has been issued by the Corps. EPA’s position that §404(c) grants it authority to unilaterally modify or revoke a permit that has been duly issued by the Corps is not conferred by §404(c) and is contrary to the language, structure, and legislative history of §404 as a whole. Nor is EPA’s interpretation reasonable. Neither the CWA nor a Memorandum of Agreement between EPA and the Corps on §404 permits makes any provision for a post-permit veto.