Representative Mike Kelly Calls on EPA Administrator to Explain Longer Waiting Period for Coal Mining Permits

Mar 10, 2011


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    

Contact: Julia Thornton

March 9, 2011                                                        



Representative Mike Kelly Calls on EPA Administrator to Explain Longer Waiting Period for Coal Mining Permits

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) submitted a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting answers behind a policy reversal that partially rescinded a 19-year agreement between the EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) regarding coal mining permit applications. As a result, over 60 permit applications have been sent to and remain backlogged within the EPA.


“For reasons unclear, the EPA recently extended the period of time that mining companies have to wait before getting a permit to mine for coal,” said Rep. Kelly. “This prolonged permit process has impacted at least 20 companies, affecting the sale and production of coal at a time when access to energy is critical to the economic well-being of Pennsylvania and the nation.”


Under the Clean Water Act, miners are required to get a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to ensure that industrial pollutants discharged into water sources are monitored, measured and reported to maintain the water quality standards established by the EPA. Since 1991, the EPA has authorized PaDEP to process and approve NPDES permit applications without EPA review or approval. In September of last year, the EPA partially reversed that 19-year precedent by requiring applications already reviewed through PaDEP’s rigorous permit process to undergo additional scrutiny through the EPA.


“How can we meet our vast energy needs and grow our economy if we keep creating regulatory barriers that are duplicative in nature and don’t allow our private sector industries to provide the products and services that literally fuel our nation?said Rep. Kelly. “I look forward to hearing Administrator Jackson’s justification for reversing a long-established process that has protected the environment while allowing the mining industry to create jobs and energy for the Commonwealth.”


A bi-partisan group of Pennsylvania delegates joined Mr. Kelly in his call for answers, including Reps. Critz, Holden, Altmire, Thompson, Marino, Barletta, and Dent. The letter submitted to Administrator Jackson is attached.