coal mining

Gone, Baby, Gone: The Death of Appalachian Coal

It’s not just cheap natural gas. Even a coal industry revival wouldn’t help Appalachia.

Trump has promised to end the “war on coal” and bring the industry roaring back. The NY Times appropriately called this a “cruel promise,” because cheap natural gas has driven coal to its knees economically.  That won’t change under Trump, who has promised even more fracking and gas production.  But, as it turns out, even …


Former Massey Energy CEO Sentenced to Prison for Actions Leading to 2010 Coal Mine Disaster

What Broader Environmental and Worker Safety Enforcement Lessons Can Be Learned Here?

A federal district judge on Wednesday sentenced Don Blankenship, the former Chief Executive of Massey Energy, to serve one year in federal prison–the maximum term allowed by law–and to personally pay a criminal penalty of $250,000 for Blankenship’s acts of omission and commission that led to the notorious 2010 coal mining disaster at Massey’s Upper …


Killer Coal

Black lung has been the underlying or contributing cause of death for more than 75,000 coal miners since 1968, according to NIOSH, the federal agency responsible for conducting research on work-related diseases and injuries. Since 1970, the Department of Labor has paid over $44 billion in benefits to miners totally disabled by respiratory diseases (or …


A win for EPA on mountaintop removal

D.C. Circuit upholds Enhanced Coordination Process, refuses to review agency guidance

The D.C. Circuit has rejected a challenge to consultation procedures developed by the EPA and Corps of Engineers for reviewing mountaintop removal mining permits and to EPA’s guidance for reviewing permits issued by the Corps or state permitting agencies. Because it rests on standard administrative law, the decision shouldn’t merit comment. But it does, because …


Scholastic, Inc. publishes pro-coal curriculum for fourth graders, apparently paid for by coal industry

Yesterday, I wrote about a satirical campaign in which anti-coal activists spoofed a Peabody Energy website in order to publicize the link between burning coal and childhood asthma.   The satirical campaign included fake child-oriented games and discounted asthma inhalers. But all satire aside, the coal industry really is marketing its product directly to children. The …


Update on Mountaintop Removal: Gov. Manchin Sues EPA

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin announced Tuesday that West Virginia is filing suit to, as the Governor put it, stop EPA’s “attempts to destroy the coal-mining industry and our way of life.”  The Charleston Gazette has a good summary of the suit.  The suit seeks to invalidate EPA’s recent review of Clean Water Act permits …


UCLA Clinic persuades federal Administrative Law Judge to vacate approval of new coal mining permit on Indian land in Arizona

I have some exciting news I can’t resist sharing: UCLA’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic won a major administrative case last month, which is now final now that the time for appeal has run. All twelve of our clinic students spent a significant chunk of this fall working on it, along with me and …


More on EPA approval of the Hobet 45 mountaintop removal permit

Cross-posted at CPR Blog. On Monday, EPA signed off on the Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a Clean Water Act § 404 permit to Hobet Mining for a mountaintop removal coal mining project in West Virginia. The decision is important because it’s the first product of the process announced last fall for joint EPA / …


EPA threatens a mountaintop removal veto

Early on in the Obama administration, EPA did some inconclusive dancing and shuffling about its role in overseeing the issuance of Clean Water Act section 404 permits by the Corps of Engineers for mountaintop removal coal mining projects.  Now, though, EPA is bringing the big guns into position. Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act …


Corps proposes to require individual permits for mountaintop removal mining

Last month, the Obama administration announced an interagency agreement to develop a coordinated policy on mountaintop removal mining. Now the Army Corps of Engineers has taken the first step toward implementing that promise. The Corps has been permitting mountaintop mining through Nationwide Permit 21, a process that provides little opportunity for public input and environmental …