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Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20031
Nos. 3:13-cv-698-PLR-CCS, (E.D. Tenn., 01/28/2015) (Reeves)

A district court held that environmental groups may go forward with their ESA lawsuit challenging OSM's issuance of SMCRA permits for two surface coal mines. The groups alleged that OSM failed to adequately consider how wastewater discharges from the mines would impact the Cumberland darter and blackside dace, two fish species protected by the ESA. Because the groups are not challenging the permits under SMCRA, they may assert their claims arising under the ESA and the APA without first exhausting SMCRA's administrative review process. But only those claims for which they allege a site-specific injury may proceed. Accordingly, claims relating to OSM's continued reliance on a 1996 biological opinion with respect to federally authorized surface coal mining and reclamation throughout the state of Tennessee were dismissed. The groups failed to establish the "personal stake" necessary for standing to assert those claims.