Commentary: Paul, McConnell aim to curb EPA

As Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell accused the Environmental Protection Agency of shutting down the coal business, the coal industry and EPA were doing business.

CONSOL of Kentucky agreed to shrink a proposed strip-mine in West Virginia from 57 acres to 19 acres.

In return, the EPA approved the mining permit which had been held up by a review that McConnell declared "outside the scope" of the EPA's authority.

The purpose of EPA reviews under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is to protect America's streams and rivers from pollution. If that's outside the agency's scope of authority, we might as well not have an EPA, which is probably exactly what McConnell and Paul have in mind.

The smaller mine will produce 2.77 million tons of coal rather than 2.85 million tons of coal.

This 4 percent sacrifice in production buys a nearly 76 percent reduction in stream impacts (from 3,626 feet to 871 feet) while reducing the land to be blasted and bulldozed by 66 percent.

This is one of several mining permits recently approved by the EPA after coal companies agreed to reduce the mining's footprint and the extent of stream burial.

It's true this level of EPA scrutiny is new to the coal industry, but that's not because EPA is exceeding its authority. It's because EPA is finally doing its job.

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