Murray files second lawsuit against EPA

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Murray Energy Corp. is once again suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over new regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, targets a proposed rule that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric utilities by 30 percent by 2030.

Murray contends that the federal Clean Air Act prohibits the EPA from issuing state-by-state emissions standards for existing sources, such as power plants, that are already subject to national standards as the result of a rule released Feb. 16, 2012. The Clean Air Act prohibits such double regulation even though the 2012 standard dealt with mercury, not carbon emissions.

“The plain language of the Clean Air Act clearly prohibits the EPA from promulgation of these unlawful and very damaging rules,” said Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent. “We cannot afford to sit idly while American jobs and livelihoods are destroyed by these illegal regulations.”

The rule announced June 2, known as the Clean Power Plan, sets state-specific standards for carbon emissions and charges each state with submitting a plan by 2018 at the latest to meet that standard. Opponents say the technology needed to achieve the standards isn’t commercially available and will lead to the closure of more power plants.

According to Murray, 421 power plants have already closed or have been identified for closure as a result of EPA regulations. Coal production in the central Appalachian region has declined by 43 percent since 2008, the company said.

With its acquisition last year of five mines formerly owned by Consol Energy, Murray is the nation’s fifth-largest coal producer, operating 12 active mines and employing about 7,300 people in six states, including West Virginia and Ohio. This is the second time in less than three months the company has sued the EPA over new regulations it argues amount to a “war on coal.”

In March, Murray filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. That lawsuit seeks to overturn new emissions standards for new coal-fired power plants, which, according to opponents of the rule, will make it virtually impossible to build such a plant in the future.

The EPA has yet to answer the March lawsuit. Earlier this month, Judge John Preston granted the agency until the end of the month to file its response.