Coal Tattoo

Waiting on EPA … decision on Spruce Mine?

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Today’s supposed to be the deadline for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator, Shawn Garvin, to make a recommendation to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson about the permit for Arch Coal Inc.’s Spruce Mine.

EPA has delayed that recommendation deadline once, and it sounds like the agency — while Garvin may have made a recommendation — isn’t going to be telling the public what that recommendation was, at least for a while.

Recall, of course, that the Obama administration’s EPA has been seeking to invoke its Clean Water Act authority to veto a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Spruce Mine (see previous posts here, here and here).

I’ve not heard back from EPA officials about what they plan to do — or not do — today. But the Wall Street Journal and West Virginia Media seem to believe that EPA plans no public statements today about the regional administrator’s recommendation. And The Associated Press is reporting:

The EPA’s Region 3 administrator was to send a recommendation about Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine to headquarters in Washington, D.C., Friday, but an agency spokeswoman won’t say what it is. She says it’s part of the internal review process.

UPDATED: EPA officials issued this statement this afternoon:

EPA won’t be releasing the Region 3 recommendation since it is not a final decision on this matter and it is part of the internal and deliberative process.

Now, I’m not sure that EPA’s regulations specifically require the agency to make this recommended determination from the regional administrator public … But I do know that Administrator Jackson has promised  “increased transparency” in its mining permit reviews, and it’s not clear how not making this recommended determination public right away meets that commitment.