WHEELING - Murray Energy is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to consider how many people may lose their jobs because of the Clean Air Act in what the company calls the continuation of the "war on coal."
After giving notice of intent to sue the EPA in January, St. Clairsville-based Murray filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Wheeling on Monday morning. In addition to President Barack Obama, the company accuses EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy of enforcing "the Clean Air Act in a manner that is causing coal mines to close, cost hard-working Americans their jobs, and shifting employment away from areas rich in coal resources to areas with energy resources preferred by the agency."
"We must defend these jobs, families and America - and force the EPA and President (Barack) Obama to comply with the law," said Gary M. Broadbent, assistant general counsel and media director for Murray Energy. "The illegal actions of the Obama EPA are a very human issue to the management and ownership of Murray Energy."
Murray Energy, with about 7,200 employees and 13 active coal mines in six states, is the fourth largest coal company in the nation in terms of revenue and fifth largest in terms of production.
In December, the company closed a $3.5 billion deal to acquire five Consol Energy mines in West Virginia.
Along with the parent company, Murray Energy Corp., many of its subsidiaries are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, while McCarthy is listed as the defendant.
In filing this lawsuit against the EPA, Murray officials state they fighting to protect workers who want to earn a living with honor and dignity, while trying to defend low-cost electricity for all Americans.
Using words such as "radical," "senseless," and "destructive," Murray officials allege the EPA is "seeking to eliminate the U.S. coal industry." According to the suit, the Obama administration and EPA's stringent enforcement of the Clean Air Act is leading to the closure of 392 coal-fired power plants across the country, including the American Electric Power Kammer Plant in Marshall County.
"The Clean Air Act is crystal clear in requiring the EPA to evaluate the negative impact that their regulations will have on jobs, but they have repeatedly been derelict in their duty," Broadbent said.
According to the EPA website, the original Clean Air Act became law in 1963, but it became much stronger in 1970 - and again in 1990. Since 1970, the EPA states the act has helped Americans breathe less pollution and face lower risks of premature death and other serious health effects.
Other accomplishments under the act, according to the EPA, include: reduction of power plant emissions that cause acid rain; reduction of interstate air pollution; protection of the ozone layer saving people from skin cancer and cataracts; and limiting emissions that cause climate change and ocean acidification.
Nevertheless, Murray officials want the federal court to force the EPA to "cease and desist from its disastrous war on coal;" order McCarthy to evaluate whether her agency's actions have caused job losses; and prevent McCarthy from approving further regulations that would allegedly hurt the coal industry.
Contacted by email, a spokesman for the EPA said officials will review the complaint when they receive it.