Coal Tattoo

While I was talking to WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman yesterday about a variety of issues, the conversation turned to the ruling last week in which the state Environmental Quality Board ordered Huffman’s agency to for the first time include discharge limits for conductivity in a strip-mining permit.

Randy said that if the decision doesn’t prompt International Coal Group to withdraw its permit application, he plans to appeal the ruling.

Then, Randy added:

This was the worst ruling I’ve ever seen out of the EQB as far as a lack of respect for the rule of law.

Randy and WVDEP lawyers argue that the board is basically trying to create a new water quality standard, something that — as explained in our print story last week — only WVDEP really has the authority to do.

The board’s ruling, though, sided with the Sierra Club, which argued that WVDEP is required by law to include numeric discharge limits in mining permits to ensure compliance the state’s narrative water quality standard prohibiting significant adverse impacts to aquatic life.