Judge overturns EPA Spruce veto; we will continue to fight

Attorneys for Appalachian Mountain Advocates have been fighting the largest mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history since 1998. With last week’s decision by?U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to overturn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s veto of the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, that fight will continue.

The judge ruled that the EPA had overstepped its authority by revoking the permit after it had been issued. The EPA should appeal that ruling.

When the EPA announced its veto, the agency discussed the importance of the streams that would be buried if the permitted activities were allowed:

As least-disturbed streams in a watershed largely affected by mining, Pigeonroost Branch, Oldhouse Branch and their tributaries represent a high-value resource for the wildlife within the watershed. The Spruce No. 1 Mine will eliminate the entire suite of important physical, chemical and biological functions provided by these streams, including maintenance of biologically diverse wildlife habitat, and will critically degrade the chemical and biological integrity of downstream waters.

This remains true. And it is also true that the scientific understanding of the value of headwaters has grown since the permit was issued in 2007 ? information that led EPA to conclude the Spruce permit should be vetoed.

The Clean Water Act gives EPA the authority to prohibit the specification of an area as a disposal site (or to withdraw such specification) whenever it determines that such usage would have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds or fisheries, recreation areas or wildlife ? an important authority for the agency charged with protecting the nation’s waters.

We will continue to fight this permit by every possible means and believe we can stop this mine and prevent all the damage it would cause.


  1. Maria Gunnoe says

    THANK God for Appalachian Mountain Advocates. We wouldn’t have homes if it weren’t for this group of great people doing great work. The industry would continue to use our streams as weapons against us by polluting and manipulating these precious headwater streams. We as a people MUST have clean water first to live and jobs should be secondary to that. Fortunately we do have Appalmad pointing out the TRUTH. We don’t have to give up our clean water and rights so that folks (from mostly out of state) can have jobs and profit. We cannot and will not continue to be ran out of our native homes for jobs.
    It simply doesn’t make sense. You cannot have MTR and community… one or the other has to go. I have witnessed many southern WV communities disappear because of expanding MTR. I don’t think any of us are so brainless that we don’t know that we cannot contiue to depend on the destruction and depopulation of our mtn communities for the expansion of MTR and the dependance on the few jobs it supplies. The recent health studies shows that this activity not only kills the men doing it but also kills people that live underneath the fall out. We have to do better. This to be polluted land and it legend will be what our children inherit. We must choose our sides carefully. Gov Tomblin Sir look what is happening to Logan Co (flood after flood after flood) and decide is MTR the right thing for the families down stream remembering that some of them are yours? God and EPA have mercy on WV’s people because our Goverment has none!..

  2. Maria Gunnoe says

    I hope folks can read in typo..

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