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Concerned Citizens of Appalachia v. Andrus

ELR Citation: 10 ELR 20536
Nos. No. 3-80-210, 494 F. Supp. 679/14 ERC 2100/(E.D. Tenn., 06/12/1980)

Granting defendants' motion to dismiss and rejecting plaintiffs' motion for a temporary injunction, the court holds that the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) violates neither the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the "reserved powers provision" of the Tenth Amendment, nor plaintiffs' right to equal protection. Plaintiffs first contended that the reclamation requirements constituted a taking of property without just compensation. In rejecting this argument, the court holds that Congress' decision to regulate strip mining in order to minimize environmental harm does not violate the Fifth Amendment in this respect since it serves a substantial public interest without increasing plaintiffs' costs prohibitively. Second, the authority of field inspectors to issue cessation orders without prior notice or a hearing does not violate procedural due process rights protected by the Fifth amendment. The federal government does not physically take control of private property in this instance; rather, it temporarily halts activities threatening to cause imminent harm. Moreover, a public hearing is required within 30 days of issuance of the order. Third, the court rejects plaintiffs' equal protection claim, ruling that although the reclamation requirements are economically prohibitive in mountainous terrain, plaintiffs have established neither a suspect classification nor an uneven curtailment of a fundamental interest. The congressional purpose of protecting the environmental by the SMCRA is well within its powers under the Commerce Clause. Finally, the court finds that the SMCRA does not infringe on the "reserved powers" provision of the Tenth Amendment because it does not require a state to take any action against its will.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
W. P. Boone Dougherty
Lockridge, Dougherty & Becker
604 Park Bank Bldg., Knoxville TN 37902
(615) 522-4194

Counsel for Defendants
Richard K. Harris, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse, Knoxville TN 37902
(615) 637-9300

Robert S. More
Office of Surface Mining, Department of the Interior
P.O. Box 15006, Knoxville TN 37901
(615) 637-8060