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West Virginia Sues Federal Government Over Mining Restrictions

4 years ago
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West Virginia is suing the federal government over strict mountaintop coal mining controls put into place last year, saying the regulations are hurting the state's economy.

Gov. Joe Manchin announced the lawsuit Wednesday against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Democrat blasted what he called the Obama administration's "attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia," The New York Times reported.

In 2009, the government instituted tighter rules for mountaintop removal, the method by which earth is blasted off hills to gain access to the coal underneath. Critics say the process pollutes the environment and destroys the landscape.

In a statement, the EPA said it would fight the suit and claimed West Virginia hasn't done enough to balance the ecological and economical concerns over mining.

"State officials have not engaged in a meaningful discussion of sustainable mining practices that will create jobs while protecting the waters that Appalachian communities depend on for drinking, swimming and fishing," the statement said in part.

Manchin is in a tight race against Republican John Raese, who has accused the governor of not being a strong enough backer of the coal industry. The Times points out that the lawsuit is an opportunity for Manchin to show his support for mining and to distance himself from President Obama, who is unpopular in the state.

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