EPA's proposed determination comes after extended discussions with the company failed to produce an agreement that would lead to a significant decrease of the environmental and health impacts of the Spruce No. 1 mine. EPA has used its Clean Water Act veto authority in just 12 circumstances since 1972 and never for a previously permitted project.
CWA Section 404(c) authorizes EPA to restrict or prohibit placing certain pollutants in streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waters if the agency determines that the activities would result in "unacceptable adverse impacts" to the environment, water quality, or water supplies. This authority applies to proposed projects as well as projects previously permitted under the CWA. A final decision to restrict or prohibit the Spruce No.1 mine will be made in EPA headquarters based on a recommendation from the regional administrator, public comments, and discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Mingo Logan Coal Company.