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United States v. Kennedy

Citation: 17 ELR 20243
No. Nos. 84-1629 et al., 806 F.2d 111/25 ERC 1421/(7th Cir., 04/08/1985)

The court holds that the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) applies to and authorizes the Department of the Interior's enforcement action against defendant's above ground reclamation of abandoned coal mine refuse. The court first rules that defendant's mere removal of coal from above ground refuse piles constitutes a "surface coal mining operation" covered by SMCRA's reclamation fees and penalties. Although defendant's activities are not explicitly included in SMCRA § 701(28)'s definition of "surface coal mining operation," neither are they included in § 528's exemptions from the SMCRA coverage. Regulations issued pursuant to SMCRA have with increasing clarity since 1977 consistently considered coal reclamation from refuse piles "surface mining." The court next holds that the regulations are reasonably related to congressional intent to make coal consumers contribute through coal operators to reclamation of areas impacted by prior coal mining. The court notes that the fact that SMCRA § 701 did not explicitly include defendant's activities as covered by the reclamation scheme is offset by the unwillingness of Congress to afford these activities explicit exemption from SMCRA in § 528.

Counsel for Defendant-Appellant
Duane D. Young
Long, Dvorak, Rabin & Young
215 S. Grand Ave. West, Springfield IL 62705
(217) 753-0201

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
Robert T. Coleman, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Rm. 330, 750 Missouri Ave. East St. Louis IL 62202
(618) 274-2200

Before ESCHBACH and FLAUM, Circuit Judges, and DOYLE, Senior District Judge.*