Today, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced he and attorneys general from 10 other states have joined an amicus brief protecting the states’ role in protecting their waters and in regulating mining activities.
In National Mining Association/Kentucky/City of Pikeville v. the Environmental Protection Agency/Sierra Club, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia make three points to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
First, that the EPA’s guidance memorandum in such activities goes against generally accepted principles pertaining to the cooperative implementation of environmental laws. Montana and others note that the guidance memorandum treats some states differently than others and oversteps the EPA’s statutory authority.
In addition, the states contend that the guidance memorandum undermines the state’s interests in permitting and regulating surface mining, while each has their own agencies in policies already in place to do so. Moving regulatory authority away from the states would have a significant impact on their environments and economies.
Lastly, the states note a recent pattern on the part of the EPA to undermine the states’ regulatory roles in similar state/federal programs, such as in administration of the Clean Air Act.
“Even before the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Montana already had one of the most comprehensive mine reclamation programs in the country,” Attorney General Fox said. “Following the passage of SMCRA, Montana moved quickly to make necessary changes in its state rules so we could fully administer federal legislation. We’re concerned about the EPA improperly imposing its own specific rules on the states, instead of developing national standards the states can meet in whatever way is best for them.”