As has been described in previous Alerts (See "Opposition to Coal Mining in West Virginia: It's Not About the Law"), EPA has used a number of different approaches in seeking to thwart the issuance of so-called "dredge and fill" permits under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) for coal mining projects in Appalachia. Perhaps the most well developed to date is the claim that new or expanded mining operations will cause violations of State "narrative" water quality standards, meant to protect general biological, aquatic and other physical systems. In West Virginia, that effort has reached a new level, and State lawmakers have expressed their desire to return some balance to EPA's oversight activities in this regard.
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