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Haydo v. Amerikohl Mining, Inc.

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 20232
Nos. No. 86-3767, 830 F.2d 494/26 ERC 1945/(3d Cir., 10/05/1987)

The court rules that a federal district court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over a claim for damages based on an alleged violation by an operator of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) or state regulations in a state that has a federally approved regulatory program under SMCRA. The court first holds that SMCRA §520 does not authorize damage actions against private defendants for violations of SMCRA itself or of a state regulatory program, but only for violations of federal rules, regulations, orders, or permits issued pursuant to SMCRA. The court holds that because the Secretary of the Interior has approved Pennsylvania's regulatory plan, Pennsylvania has exclusive jurisdiction over surface coal mining and reclamation on nonfederal lands within its borders, and Pennsylvania courts have exclusive jurisdiction over alleged violations of the state statute and regulations. In addition, the court holds that the federal question statute does not establish federal jurisdiction over this case. The defendant's alleged duty to restore or replace the plaintiff's water supply is imposed by Pennsylvania law. Sections 512 and 515 of SMCRA provide that for a state program to be approved, it must impose certain minimum performance standards on permit applicants. However, the court holds, these standards do not create any rights or duties between operators and other persons, and an operator's violation of the standards is not a violation of SMCRA.

Counsel for Appellants
Lee R. Golden, Robert P. Ging Jr.
430 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 471-3900

Counsel for Appellee
Timothy P. O'Brien
Sikov & Love
1400 Lawyers Bldg., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 261-4202

Before Seitz and Debevoise,[*] JJ.