Energy

Pro-Coal Democrat Pays EPA $220K For Building Ponds On His Property

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice’s gubernatorial has agreed to pay federal regulators $220,000 in fines for violating the Clean Water Act by building ponds on his own property.

The Environmental Protection Agency fined Justice and a company he owns for building 20 illegal dams in his bid to restore the historic Greenbrier resort — a famous West Virginia hunting and fishing resort.

The EPA claims “the construction of earthen, cement and stone dams along the trout stream caused unauthorized discharges that reduced water quality,” according to The Associated Press. The dams also “reshaped the stream, changed water flow, disrupted fish passage and caused sediment buildup.”

Justice and High Mountain Living LLC agreed to pay the EPA fines for Clean Water Act violations.

Justice, who recently switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, plans on running for governor of West Virginia next year as the state’s economy is hampered by low coal prices and EPA regulations shuttering coal plants and mines. The state has lost thousands of coal industry jobs in the last few years.

“Our state and our people are hurting,” Justice said at a news conference in May. “You need somebody that loves our state and somebody that doesn’t want a nickel for doing it.”

Justice, who made his money in the coal business, said he would only take an annual salary of $1 if elected, and is touting his record as a businessman to help turn the state around.

The Wall Street Journal reports “Justice’s coal operations had more 250 outstanding violations at one point last year” and that “Justice has paid about $2.2 million in civil penalties.”

Justice’s opening to run for governor came after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not run for the office, and instead would continue to represent West Virginia in Washington, D.C.

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