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Ohio River Valley Environmental Coalition v. Salazar

Citation: 42 ELR 20017
No. 11-1049, (4th Cir., 01/10/2012)

The Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing an environmental group's lawsuit challenging the OSM's approval of two amendments to West Virginia's surface coal mining regulations. One amendment repeals the definition of "cumulative impact" in the state's cumulative hydrologic impact assessment provision. The second amendment adds a definition for "material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area." OSM reviewed the amendments and concluded that the proposed changes would not make the state program any less effective than the federal regulations are at achieving the purposes of SMCRA. Because the OSM has expertise in its particular field, the court must attach a presumption of validity to the agency's actions. Below, the lower court reasonably determined that the OSM provided an adequate basis for its approval and that West Virginia's "material damage" definition does not supersede, amend, modify, or repeal the CWA. Accordingly, the lower court's opinion was affirmed.