MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority last year in revoking water pollution permits that another agency had issued for one of West Virginia’s largest mountaintop removal coal mines, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday.

In siding with St. Louis-based Arch Coal, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declared the permits were valid. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had issued the permits for the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County.

“This is a huge victory for West Virginia and our coal miners,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson “to admit that they have gone too far.”

“Issue our permits so that we can put our people back to work and provide the resources that will power America,” he said.

West Virginia Coal Association Vice President Jason Bostic said the EPA “employed magical thinking” to obtain a result the judge declared “illogical and impractical.”

The EPA said the agency and the Department of Justice are reviewing the decision, which “does not affect the EPA’s commitment to protect the health of Appalachian communities who depend on clean water.”

The EPA in January 2011 used its veto power for only the 13th time since 1972 to overturn a permit the corps had issued under the federal Clean Water Act. The agency said at the time it reserves that power “for only unacceptable cases.”

A coalition of environmental groups issued a joint response, calling it a sad day for not only people who live near mountaintop removal mines, “but for all Americans who understand the need to protect our waterways, and the health of communities that depend on them.”