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UPDATE 1-US axes permit for Arch's giant mountain coalmine
January 13, 2011 / 5:43 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 1-US axes permit for Arch's giant mountain coalmine

 * Move shuts one of largest U.S. mountaintop coalmines
 * Obama admin has been cracking down on mountaintop mines
 * Arch says will fight for the permit in court
 (Adds details, Arch comment, byline) 
 By Timothy Gardner
 WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The Obama administration
revoked a permit on Thursday for Arch Coal Inc's ACI.N
proposed Spruce 1 mountaintop coal mine in West Virginia,
effectively shutting one of the biggest in the United States.
 "The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and
unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of
Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend,"
said Peter Silvan, an assistant administrator for water, at the
Environmental Protection Agency.
 The EPA's final ruling under the Clean Water Act came after
a scientific study, a public hearing, and a review of more than
50,000 public comments, the agency said.
 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had approved a permit for
the mine in 2007, but it had not been fully constructed.
[ID:nN15219373].
 Lawmakers from West Virginia said the EPA's move would hurt
the state's economy.
 "Today's EPA decision is not just fundamentally wrong, it
is an unprecedented act by the federal government that will
cost our state and our nation even more jobs during the worst
recession in this country's history," Senator Joe Manchin, a
Democrat, said in a release.
 Senator Jay Rockefeller, also a Democrat, wrote a letter to
President Barack Obama, that said: "as a nation we must not
fall into the trap of forcing unnecessary choices between
protecting the environment and having good paying jobs that
support energy independence."
 St. Louis-based Arch said it would vigorously defend the
permit in court. EPA's revocation of the permit blocks an
additional $250 million in investment and 250 jobs, the company
said.
 It was the latest move by the Obama administration to crack
down on mountaintop mining, in which companies blast high peaks
to uncover coal seams and often toss the resulting rubble into
valleys.
 Obama's EPA started requiring big carbon dioxide polluters,
such as coal-fired power plants, to hold permits for emitting
the planet-warming gas.
 The administration's policy to get tough on coal could face
stiffer opposition in Congress after Republicans took control
of the House of Representatives and gained seats in the Senate
in last year's elections.
 Environmentalists applauded the EPA action.
 "A full veto of the proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine is a true
victory for the communities nearby, and for all Americans
across the country who are fighting to protect our precious
natural resources from industrial pollution," said Joan
Mulhern, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice.
 "While this is only one mine of many, we hope this veto
will be the beginning of the end of the devastating practice of
mountaintop removal mining by bringing the fundamental legal
protection of the Clean Water Act to the whole Appalachian
region, once and for all."
 Shares in Arch were up more than 1.4 percent on Thursday at
$34.63 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
 (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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