Coal Tattoo

While the rest of us were focused on President Obama’s big meeting with West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and other energy state governors, U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver issued a pretty significant ruling in a water pollution case against a Fayette County coal operation.

The ruling, which I’ve posted here, again supports the notion that private deals the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection works out with coal companies to resolve water pollution violations do not prevent citizen groups from filing their own Clean Water Act lawsuits to try to force companies to stop violating permit limits.

Judge Copenhaver ruled on this issue before (see previous post). The case involves Powellton Coal Co., a CONSOL Energy Inc. subsidiary, which environmental groups say has accrued more than 6,700 violations of the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Act at its Bridge Fork Surface Mine, Sugarcamp Loadout and Rich Creek Haulroad.

Previous posts about WVDEP’s deals with the coal industry are available here and here.

This suit against Powellton was brought by the Sierra Club and the Ansted Historical Preservation Council, groups that have also been taking on WVDEP for re-issuing permits for Powellton while the company had unresolved environmental violations.