WASHINGTON, D.C. -U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today said that he appreciated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) timely responses to his April 21 letter on mountaintop mining permits. Senator Inhofe sent a letter on Monday, April 21, 2009 to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting information on the delay of Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop mining projects. The letter was in response to the delayed issuance of six Clean Water Act permits as well as the impending review of 200 additional permits.
“I appreciate EPA’s timely responses to my questions regarding delays of several mountaintop mining permits,” Senator Inhofe said. “Mountaintop mining is a vitally important economic activity as it provides a significant portion of the coal that contributes nearly 50 percent of the nation’s electricity. Therefore it is important to hear from the administration about its justification for these delays.
Sen. Inhofe expressed concern over the criteria EPA is using to re-evaluate and review pending permits— a fact that provides insight into the agency’s current decision making process.
“I am concerned that these criteria appear to be part of a new process that would add permit requirements, negotiated by EPA on a permit-by permit-basis,” Sen. Inhofe said.“I am concerned because nothing has changed that would require a new process. Any changes EPA makes must be consistent with the law.”
“As our nation endures difficult economic times, we must ensure the federal government is helping, not blocking, efforts to put Americans back to work, strengthen energy security, and protect the environment. In the upcoming weeks, I will continue monitoring EPA’s review of mountaintop mining permits to ensure they are reviewed in a timely fashion and according to law.”