U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials have approved hundreds of stormwater discharge permits similar to that requested by Murray Energy for a local coal mine, an Ohio EPA spokesman told us. Yet when the state agency sent Murray's plan to Washington, it was rejected with no explanation.
There are several possible reasons for the action. It may be just one more example of the extremism that seems more and more common at the EPA. This is the same agency, remember, that tried to fine the owner of a small West Virginia chicken farm because of storm runoff. In that case, a federal judge ordered the EPA to cease and desist.
Or, the Murray Energy rejection may be just a new tactic in the war on coal and reasonably priced electricity launched by President Barack Obama's administration.
But there is another, more sinister possibility: Murray Energy founder and CEO Robert Murray is among the most vocal critics of Obama and the EPA. He also is a well-known supporter of conservative candidates. One wonders whether his reputation had anything to do with the EPA's action.
As we have reported, Ohio EPA officials thought the company's request for a stormwater discharge permit was fine. Again, it was similar to many others approved in the past in Washington.
But this time, the U.S. EPA rejected the application, explaining only that officials believe Murray's application does not comply with the Clean Water Act. No details were provided. Ohio EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said state officials "are hoping to find out what the objections are, so they can be addressed." The U.S. EPA rejection letter states specific concerns may be furnished by Jan. 5.
As Abbruzzese noted, "there are jobs at stake"
in the case.
Providing the U.S. EPA has valid concerns, they should be addressed, of course. But for now, the situation smells strongly of one more attempt by the Obama administration to harm the coal industry and strike back at an important critic.