United States of America
Permits, Wildlife, Jurisdiction, Causation, Standing, Injunctive Relief, Remedies
The National Mining Association filed one of four lawsuits challenging an EPA guidance issued in 2011 that asked States to consider conductivity levels of stream water when issuing mining permits. The Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water-quality standards infringed on State authority to regulate surface mining. Review of the Final Guidance itself and of the post-implementation evidence before the Court makes clear that the Final Guidance … has caused EPA field offices and the State permitting authorities to believe that permits should and will be denied if its “suggestions” and “recommendations” are not satisfied. The ruling sets aside the Obama administration policy issued July 2011 that the agency said was aimed at protecting stream water from the hazards of mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. The policy was established to ensure consistent and timely review of surface coal-mining permits under the Clean Water Act and other statutes, according to the agency. The mountaintop-removal technique produces millions of tons of crushed shale and sandstone that is dumped in valleys and streams. Rainwater flowing through the debris carries dissolved metals into the water, a potentially harmful mix for humans and wildlife, the EPA has said.