COLUMBUS (AP) — An Ohio appeals court this week dismissed certain restrictions placed on coal miners operating in wetlands, ruling they are not based in law.
The Oxford Mining Co. approached the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 about proposed mining projects in Muskingum and Guernsey counties that would affect wetlands. The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1CJK4n9) the agency gave the company a permit to disturb the wetlands and streams within the White Eyes Creek watershed, which feeds into the Muskingum River.
However, the EPA placed some restrictions on the company’s activity in the area. Oxford had to agree to stop its mining activity if it encountered mussels or the endangered Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. The agency also prohibited the mining company from building roads or mining in one specific wetland and allowed only a temporary road in another.
Some restrictions were lifted when Oxford appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission in 2013, but others remained in place. Then-EPA director Scott Nally appealed, arguing the endangered species and wetlands should be protected.
On Thursday the 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that none of the agency’s restrictions on the mining company were based in law, and that the EPA exceeded its authority.