Coal Tattoo

Mountaintop removal litigation update

In the midst of covering a flurry of activity regarding the Massey Energy-Alpha Natural Resources deal, I missed tell you all about a couple of interesting legal actions … so here goes.

First, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and several other groups filed a motion to intervene in the case that Arch Coal filed challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to veto the Clean Water Act permit for its Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va.

Cindy Rank, mining chair of the Highlands Conservancy, said:

We began working to protect these precious mountain streams more than 15 years ago so we applaud EPA’s veto because it brings essential Clean Water Act protections to a vital corner of West Virginia. We’ll keep working to keep our local waters and mountains safe from destruction by mountaintop removal mining waste so West Virginians can enjoy them for generations to come.

On a different matter, the Sierra Club filed a suit against International Coal Group’s ICG Hazard subsidiary — the first-ever lawsuit over selenium pollution from a mountaintop removal mine in Kentucky. Bill Estep of the Herald-Leader reported:

The lawsuit charges that ICG Hazard LLC has discharged selenium and other pollutants into creeks near the Thunder Ridge mine in violation of federal law, state standards and its own permit conditions.

The complaint seeks several remedies, including orders for the mine to stop discharges that violate clean-water standards, and install adequate treatment facilities. It also seeks penalties of up to $37,500 per day per violation against the company.