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Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20196
Nos. No. 2:12-6689, (S.D. W. Va., 08/18/2014) (Copenhaver, Jr., J.)

A district court upheld a dredge-and-fill permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued to a mining company allowing it to conduct surface coal mining activities at a proposed 725-acre site in Boone County, West Virginia. Environmental groups challenged the permit, arguing that the Corps failed to properly consider detrimental human health effects associated with surface coal mining. But the Corps need only consider effects that are proximately caused by the activities within its jurisdiction and control. The Corps, therefore, properly limited its review to the narrow issue of the filling of jurisdictional waters as opposed to the mine as a whole. In addition, the Corps' exclusion of certain health studies submitted by the groups was reasonable. The court must defer to the Corps’ interpretations of what their own regulations require with regard to the scope of their NEPA review, and the Corps determined that it need only consider those health effects that are associated with discharges into the water supply. Nor was the Corps' cumulative impact analysis arbitrary or capricious. Likewise, the Corps' review was proper under the CWA.