EPA has issued its final guidance document on Appalachian surface coal mining and how the Clean Water Act applies to Appalachian mountaintopremoval mining projects. The final guidance replaces EPA’s April 2011 interim guidance that elicited more than 60,000 comments.

According to EPA, the guidance does not impose legally binding requirements. Rather, its goal is to clarify existing understandings and to improve and strengthen permit decision-making consistent with existing law. According to press reports, the mining industry has argued that the guidance amounts to a series of new rules that bypass proper regulatory channels. See Greenwire, July 21, 2011.