By Kate BumgarnerBumpkin County, New Jersey–June 22, 2018–It is the kind of landscape you could never forget: a pristine riverfront with a lush green forest on its banks.
But that’s not the view from a nearby golf course.
And that’s because the county is about to start suing the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate the use of coal and other fossil fuels in its public lands.
“We don’t want coal in our rivers and streams,” said Michael Fassone, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Fassone is representing the county in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York on June 17.
He says the agency has spent more than a decade trying to force the county to curb the amount of coal it mines in its water, soil, and air.
It has been a long, drawn-out battle that began when the coal mining company, the National Coal Association, asked the agency to take a tougher stance on the amount it was mining in Bumpkin county.
That move, Fasson says, came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs for the county.
Faced with a decision about whether to continue mining coal in its waters, the agency last week released a final environmental impact report that says it is concerned about coal mining in its Bumpkins.
The agency says it’s concerned about the potential for toxic pollutants in the groundwater, which the EPA says can contaminate drinking water.
The EPA said it has asked the state attorney general to investigate whether the agency’s actions violate the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In its final report, the EPA said that it has made more than 1,600 comments on the matter and “continues to work closely with local stakeholders, and the New York Attorney General, to ensure that all stakeholders are adequately represented in this process.”
Fasson disagrees with the agency.
He argues that the county’s request is overly broad.
He believes the agency is overstepping its authority in its request.
“They should have been able to tell the agency, ‘you can’t do this,'” he said.
“What the federal government is doing is going to allow them to regulate anything they want.
They can go ahead and make coal mining a thing,” he added.
The coal mining industry has been fighting the EPA’s actions in court, saying that it is the rightful owner of the Bumpks River.
The county, however, says it does not have the authority to regulate coal mining, which it has been mining in the county for more than 100 years.
Bumpkins County, which is home to about 30,000 people, has seen a rise in the number of mining accidents over the last decade, according to county officials.
In February, the New Brunswick Daily News reported that the Bumps had one of the highest rates of mine closures in New Brunswick.
The town also has been grappling with a spike in cases of cancer, respiratory illnesses, and even a spike for people who have contracted hepatitis C.
The New Jersey Division of Occupational Safety and Health has been reviewing the agency�s decision to regulate these mining operations, saying it is critical that the agency protect public health and safety.
The department said it will also conduct an investigation into whether the county has violated environmental laws.
Fishermen, coal companies, and other stakeholders say the agency should have gone further, to prohibit the mining of coal in Bumps River, and instead allowed it to continue to operate in the state.
Fasana Jammal, a professor of environmental law at George Washington University, says the EPA is violating federal environmental laws, which are meant to protect the environment and the public.
She says the state needs to make the agency accountable for its actions, and it should not be able to regulate certain activities without a public comment process.
“If the federal agency was to try to regulate it on the basis of the facts, that would be really unfair to the public and the state, and I think it would be bad for the environment,” she said.
“It’s a really complicated issue.”
The EPA’s proposed new regulations on coal mining were scheduled to take effect on May 20, 2019.
The company has until June 29, 2020 to respond to the proposed rules.
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