Manchin, Rockefeller reintroduce EPA Fair Play Act in Senate

WASHINGTON – A bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from retroactively vetoing a permit was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

Among the sponsoring senators were Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, Democrats from West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio and David Vitter R-La., to reintroduce the EPA Fair Play Act in the 113th Congress. The legislation would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from retroactively vetoing permits to protect energy production, economic growth and job creation.

An appeals court in Washington, D.C., this week reversed a district court’s ruling, thus allowing the agency’s veto of the permit to the Spruce Mine, a mountain top removal operation in Logan County, W.Va., to stand.

“For too long the EPA has overreached with its power at the cost of countless American jobs and critical investments,” Manchin said. “As we continue to face a recovering economy, American businesses must have certainty in the marketplace. It is simply common sense to allow companies that already have been granted permits to finish the work they have started.”

When the federal government makes a decision about a permit, the decision shouldn’t change, Rockefeller said.

“The EPA serves a very important purpose to protect our health and water quality,” he said. “But with Spruce Mine, we have seen the agency try to reverse a permit years after it was issued. Such unnecessary uncertainty undermines confidence in permits issued by the government. This bill would make sure that EPA can’t retroactively veto permits once they’re issued.”

The Mingo Logan Coal Co., which received the Spruce Mine permit in 2007, was going to invest $250 million dollars in the project, which would have created 200 jobs with benefits.

As governor of West Virginia, Manchin supported a lawsuit against the EPA after the veto of the Spruce Mine permit in Logan County. In 2011, Manchin introduced the EPA Fair Play Act as his first piece of legislation in the Senate.