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Council of the S. Mountains, Inc. v. Watt

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20393
Nos. No. 82-45, (E.D. Ky., 10/18/1982)

The court holds that plaintiff may be awarded attorney fees and costs at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior for citizen suits brought under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) to the extent that plaintiff's efforts resulted in administrative proceedings and final orders. The court denies plaintiff attorney fees under §525(e) of SMCRA and applicable regulations for private negotiations that the plaintiff conducted directly of plaintiff's contribution, these negotiations were not administrative proceedings and resulted in no final court order as required by the statute and regulations. Nor may plaintiff receive attorney fees for an appeal that plaintiff filed with the Interior Board of Surface Mining and Reclamation Appeals and then voluntarily withdraw. The withdrawal prevented a final order and a full and fair determination of the issues, and leaves the substantiality of plaintiff's contribution in question. However, plaintiff may be awarded, at the discretion of the Secretary, fees and costs for its specific efforts in prosecuting complaints that on appeal resulted in agency enforcement actions and abatement by the operator.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Paul M. Smith
Onek, Klein & Farr
2550 M St. NW, Washington DC 20037
(202) 775-0184

L. Thomas Galloway
Center for Law & Social Policy
1751 N St. NW, Washington DC 20530
(202) 833-9084

Mark L. Morgan
326 W. Main St., Suite 205, Danville KY 40422
(606) 236-3303

Counsel for Defendants
Jane E. Graham, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1490, Lexington KY 40591
(606) 233-2661

Alfred T. Ghiorzi
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2306