Federal Appeals Court Considering Mountain Removal Mining Lawsuit

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An appeals court is weighing whether the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority in its veto of permits for one of West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal mines.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the case Thursday.

In 2011, the EPA revoked a water-pollution permit the Army Corps of Engineers had issued four years earlier to St. Louis-based Arch Coal for its 2,300-acre Spruce No. 1 mine.

EPA said destructive, unsustainable mining practices would cause irreparable environmental damage and threaten the health of residents nearby.

Industry, politicians and state regulators want the appeals court to uphold a federal judge's ruling that EPA overstepped its authority. They say EPA is preventing permits from ever being considered final.

Environmentalists want the ruling overturned.