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National Mining Ass'n v. Scarlett

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20090
Nos. No. 00-283 (RWR), (D.D.C., 05/04/2006)

The court rejects a mining association's statutory and constitutional claims challenging a 1999 Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) rule defining "valid existing rights." The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act prohibits new surface coal mining operations on certain lands subject to "valid existing rights." The 1999 rule defined that exception narrowly, requiring a coal company to show that as of 1977 it has made a "good faith" effort to obtain "all permits needed" for mining in order to be allowed to mine in the protected areas. OSM's "good faith/all permits" standard is not inconsistent with legislative intent. Moreover, OSM considered the relevant factors and supplied a rational explanation for its conclusion. Therefore, the rule is not arbitrary, capricious, inconsistent with the law, or otherwise unreasonable, and it is entitled to deference. In addition, the rule does not constitute a takings violation, nor does it deprive property rights holders of due process. Accordingly, the court denied the association's motion for summary judgment and granted federal defendants' and intervenor-defendants' motions for summary judgment.