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US judge strikes down EPA water criteria for mines

A federal judge says the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its powers by setting up water-quality criteria for coal mining operations in Appalachia.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington ruled Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a coal mining industry coalition against the EPA and Administrator Lisa Jackson. Walton said the EPA infringed on the authority given to state regulators by federal clean water and surface mining acts.

Last year, the EPA tightened guidelines on the practice of dumping waste into Appalachian valley waterways from surface mine blasting.

The National Mining Association, which had denounced the guidelines as a "jobs destroyer," says it's now time to get miners back to work by allowing state permitting agencies to do their jobs.

A message left with the EPA wasn't immediately returned.