Coal Tattoo

Judge Chambers remands Massey permit

Catching up on some legal news that I missed from last week … U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers has agreed to an Obama administration request and sent a Massey Energy mountaintop removal permit back to the federal Army Corps of Engineers for another look.

Judge Chambers remanded the Clean Water Act permit for Massey subsidiary Highland Mining”s Reylas Surface Mine in Logan County after the Corps pulled the plug on the permit, saying it wanted to take another look at the proposed operation and its environmental impacts. Remember that environmental groups had challenged the permit. Judge Chambers had issued a temporary restraining order and set a more detailed hearing for next month.

Now, in this two-page order, Judge Chambers not only sent the permit back to the Corps (as the agency had asked), but also ordered the Corps to provide status reports on its re-examination of the permit every 30 days.  The judge said:

In these reports, the Corps, in good faith, shall provide an estimate regarding the anticipated length of the review process, and the Corps shall indicate what issues have already been reviewed and resolved. After a status report is submitted, any party may request a conference with the Court to discuss any issue in the report.

Interestingly, the order also said:

The Court further DIRECTS the Corps to provide to the Plaintiffs and the Highland Mining Company, contemporaneously with its receipt, a copy of any document, and any writing memorializing any contact with outside parties, which will be part of the administrative record.


The Court DIRECTS that should the permit be re-issued by the Corps, any activity under those permits be stayed thirty days after notice of re-issuance to the Court and the parties.