The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection just issued its long-promised permitting guidance for implementing the “narrative water quality standards” as it applies to surface coal-mining operations (See previous posts on this subject here, here and here).
In a news release just issued, WVDEP described the guidance this way:
The guidance document is a tool to be used by the DEP to develop National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for the coal mining industry. The goals of the document are to advance water quality and assure that surface mining operations are conducted in ways that protect the narrative water quality standards.
The guidance document addresses matters such as reasonable potential analyses for aquatic impacts downstream and extensive monitoring before and during mining to ensure that aquatic life use is being adequately protected.
WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman said:
We trust that EPA will give deference to West Virginia’s guidance document, as it was created to satisfy requirements outlined in the Clean Water Act.
This document will result in changes that are markedly different from how mining has been conducted for the last 30 years.