AL, 28 other states join suit over certainty of Clean Water Act - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

AL, 28 other states join suit over certainty of Clean Water Act permits

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The State of Alabama is joining 27 other states in an amicus brief in support of West Virginia's request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a circuit court's decision to uphold an Environmental Protection Agency veto of a Clean Water Act permit.

[DOCUMENT: Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court (.pdf)]

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced the state's support Tuesday. The decision, by the Circuit Court of Washington, D.C., upheld the EPA's veto of the permit issued to Mingo Logan Coal Company in WV under Section 404 of the Act.

"The authority asserted by the EPA in the Mingo Logan case is unprecedented," Governor Bentley said. "Alabama has joined West Virginia in support of challenging the D.C. Circuit Court's opinion that gave overreaching power to the EPA. If the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court stands and the EPA has unlimited veto authority, all states will be subject to devastating uncertainty with respect to public works projects that require 404 permits under the Clean Water Act."

Section 404 requires a permit before any material related to a public works project can be discharged into waters.

For Alabama, and other states, the D.C. Court's EPA decision could have major effects. The case poses a challenge to the EPA's veto authority using the Clean Water Act, and was used four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to the WV mining company.

The brief to the Supreme Court contends:

"The D.C. Circuit's decision—granting EPA power under the Clean Water Act to veto a 404 permit "whenever"—threatens public works projects in every State and fundamentally alters the way water pollution is regulated in this country. From coast to coast, highways, bridges, hydroelectric dams, and water reservoirs—just to name a few—are all at
increased risk of cancellation by a federal agency that often vacillates with the political winds. In addition, the permitting processes that have long been the primary responsibility of the Corps and the States are now subject at any time to being overruled by EPA."

Alabama's segment of the brief focuses on the $5.4 billion Northern Beltline project which is expected to enhance cross-region accessibility, create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the Birmingham area. The Corps issued a 404 permit for the first segment of the project back in September. The project is expected to last at least 30 years.

States involved in the suit include: West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia,
Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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