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Star Coal Co. v. Andrus

Citation: 10 ELR 20328
No. No. 79-171-2, 14 ERC 1325/(S.D. Iowa, 02/13/1980)

The court denies a motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and upholds the Act's constitutionality against a broad attack alleging violations of the Commerce Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and the Fifth Amendment, as well as denials of substantive and procedural due process and equal protection. In reviewing the motion, the court applies standards found in SMCRA, the traditional common law test, and an alternate test that asks whether there are sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make the questions a fair basis for litigation and whether the balance of hardships tilts sharply in plaintiff's favor. The court finds that plaintiff has failed to justify a preliminary injunction under the relevant criteria. The court rejects defendants' argument that plaintiff must exhaust administrative remedies because the constitutional issues are ripe for review. After considering each of these issues, however, the court concludes that plaintiff has not shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits of any of its constitutional claims. On the other hand, the court does enjoin enforcement of § 518(a) of SMCRA, which requires prepayment of a civil penalty into an escrow fund in order to contest a violation, after determining that plaintiff is likely to succeed on its challenge that this provision deprives it of property without due process. The court also enjoins defendants from enforcing Violation No. 1, which charged plaintiff with failing to prepare a reclamation plan even though its operating permit did not require such a plan.

Counsel for Plaintiff
John D. Raikos
Raikos & Raikos
1545 Market Sq. Center, 151 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 632-5357

Sidney E. Drake
303 S. State St., Centerville IA 52544
(515) 856-8624

Counsel for Defendants
Alfred T. Ghiorzi
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2738

Walton D. Morris Jr.
Office of Surface Mining
Department of the Interior, Washington DC 20240
(202) 343-4671

Roxanne Barton Conlin, U.S. Attorney; Amanda M. Dorr, Ass't U.S. Attorney
122 U.S. Courthouse, Des Moines IA 50309
(515) 284-4400