Coal Tattoo

Did Rep. McKinley understand his own amendment?

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Yesterday, I was re-reading the House floor debate over the coal industry riders pushed through by the Republican leadership (with a little help from our good friend, Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall).

Something jumped out at me from the remarks made by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., regarding his amendment to block the U.S. EPA from vetoing anymore Clean Water Act Section 404 permits for surface mines. Here’s what I’m talking about:

These actions by the EPA continue to justify why so many Americans worry about the EPA’s relentless war on coal. If the EPA can be allowed to retroactively revoke a permit in West Virginia, they can continue this onslaught wherever water permits exist throughout America. Any entity discharging water is vulnerable to having their permits pulled and will put at risk city sewage treatment plans, farms, mines, steel mills, and chemical plants.

OK … here’s the thing. EPA vetoed a Section 404 permit — known as a “dredge-and-fill permit” for the Spruce Mine, not a water discharge permit of the type McKinley is worried about regarding steel mills and city sewage treatment facilities. Those are permits issued under a separate part of the Clean Water Act, Section 402.

And if you look at the language of Rep. McKinley’s amendment, it specifically prohibits:

… The use of funds used by the Administrator of the EPA to carry out section 404(c) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

So if Rep. McKinley is concerned about those city wastewater treatment plants and steel mills, he’s going to have to rewrite his amendment.