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Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition v. Coal-Mac, Inc.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20141
Nos. Nos. 3:10-0833, -0836, (S.D. W. Va., 03/31/2011)

A district court held that mining companies violated the selenium effluent limitations set forth in their state-issued NPDES and surface mining permits. The companies had sought permit modifications from the state's environmental agency, and when those requests were denied, the companies appealed to the state's environmental quality board, which stayed the agency's orders as well as the effective date of the selenium effluent limitations contained in the permits. The companies therefore argued that an environmental group's CWA and SMCRA citizen suit against them was premature because the selenium effluent limitations were stayed by the board. But the board exceeded its statutory authority when it issued a stay of both the orders before it on appeal and the underlying permits, which were not the subject of an appeal. Accordingly, the underlying permits and the effective dates of the selenium effluent limitations are currently operative. Because the environmental group established that the companies are in continuing violation of the CWA and the SMCRA, the court granted the group's motions for summary judgment. The scope of injunctive relief and the amount of civil penalties to be assessed will be determined at a later date.