Coal Tattoo

Sierra Club challenges Va. mining permit

This afternoon, the Sierra Club and the group Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards filed suit in federal court to challenge a mountaintop removal mining permit that the Obama administration itself has been trying to block.

I’ve posted a copy of their legal complaint here. It targets A&G Coal Corp.’s Ison Rock Ridge Surface Mine in Wise County, Va. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by longtime citizen group lawyer Walt Morris of Charlottesville.

Coal Tattoo readers may recall that EPA already asked the Corps of Engineers to revoke this permit, which was issued under the Clean Water Act’s Nationwide Permit 21 — which in West Virginia was thrown out  by U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin — and instead process the permit application under the Clean Water Act’s Individual Permit, or IP, process.

The new lawsuit cited EPA’s criticisms of this permit, and alleges that the mine is causing and will continue to cause greater than minimal environmental damage — which means legally it should not be permitted under NWP21.

Along with the Corps, acting Office of Surface Mining Director Glenda Owens is also named as a defendant in the suit. Environmentalists allege that OSM did not properly ensure that Virginia officials adequately considered the mine’s potential impacts on nearby historic properties.