Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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August 2009
Contents

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia


For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

 
Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR

On March 31, OVEC, Coal River Mountain Watch and the Natural Resources Defense Council won a critical case in the federal court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

We had challenged an Army Corps of Engineers "nationwide" permit, which would have authorized waste material disposal from surface coal mining into United States waters. We were represented by the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment and Public Justice.

The courts decision involved a nationwide permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act Section 404, which gave coal mining operations such as mountaintop removal mines the ability to dump their waste in streams. The judges decision blocks the Corps from authorizing further mountaintop removal permits through the Clean Water Act Section 404.

The court found that the Corps had acted unreasonably in two main respects. First, it ignored the past impacts of similar mining in deciding not to prepare an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Second, the Corps assumed without justification that the effects on streams and other water bodies would be adequately offset by "mitigation" measures, such as building man-made drainage ditches as replacements for destroyed natural streams.

The court found that the Corps did not have an adequate plan to monitor mitigation efforts and require corrective action, an obvious problem considering that mitigation commonly fails to replace the lost resources.

"Mitigation is the centerpiece of the Corps claim that mountaintop removal and valley fills have cumulatively insignificant environmental effects," said Jim Hecker, Environmental Enforcement Director for Public Justice. "The Corps claims that it can achieve 100 percent success in mitigating the burial of streams by creating new streams elsewhere. The court correctly found that this claim is an unsupported belief and a mere promise that has no factual or scientific basis."

The coal industry is expected to appeal this decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This case and decision differ from a win we had with an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers. In that case Judge Chambers was examining questions about the adequacy of the Corps review of "individual" permits under Section 404.

Early this year, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. We are considering whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

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