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Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n v. Andrus

Citation: 9 ELR 20618
No. No. 79-1146, 604 F.2d 312/13 ERC 1554/(4th Cir., 03/27/1979) Preliminary injunction vacated

The court vacates a preliminary injunction issued by a district court, 9 ELR 20235, against enforcement of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. The injunction is invalid because the lower court, in reliance on established principles of equity, ruled that it was unnecessary to consider the plaintiffs' likelihood of success once it had determined that the balance of harms tilted sharply in plaintiffs' favor. Section 526(c) of the Act, however, supplants the common law tests and provides specifically that any person seeking injunctive relief from orders of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act must show, inter alia, a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the claims presented. The lower court's failure to make findings on the merits, as well as its failure to determine that the injunction would not adversely affect the public health or safety or cause imminent environmental harm to land, air, or water resources, conflict with the congressional policies underlying the statute, ignore the requirements for injunctive relief, and require dissolution of the injunction.

Counsel for Appellants
Michael M. McCord, Carl Strass, Alfred T. Ghiorzi, Carol Green; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2701

William Eichbaum, Associate Solicitor; Marc McGraw
Department of the Interior, Washington DC 20240
(202) 343-4325

Counsel for Appellees
John L. Kilcullen
Kilcullen, Smith & Heenan
Suite 600, 1800 M St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 296-5700

Roger L. Chaffee, Ass't Attorney General
Supreme Court Bldg., Richmond VA 23219
(804) 786-2071

Counsel for Intervenors Town of St. Charles
Robert T. Copeland
Bradshaw, Morris & Copeland
206 E. Main St., Abingdon VA 24210
(703) 628-8121