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Citizens Coal Council v. Norton

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20570
Nos. No. 00-0274 (JR), 193 F. Supp. 2d 159/(D.D.C., 03/28/2002)

The court holds that the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) §1272(e) prohibits subsidence and underground mining activities that might lead to subsidence in parks and protected areas. The Secretary of the Interior interpreted §1272(e), which prohibits surface coal mining operations in parks and protected areas, as not prohibiting subsidence activities in those areas. The court holds, however, that contrary to the Secretary's interpretation, "surface coal mining operations" encompasses both surface coal mines and the surface effects of underground coal mines. This is the most natural reading of the statute and is consistent with SMCRA's purpose, structure, and legislative history. Therefore, the Secretary's interpretation was clearly erroneous.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (13 pp., ELR Order No. L-489).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Howard I. Fox
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Ste. 702, Washington DC 20036
(202) 667-4500

Counsel for Defendant
Ruth Ann Storey
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000