Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards v. Red River Coal Co., Inc.

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20055
Nos. 19-2194, (4th Cir., 03/30/2021)

The Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for a coal company in a lawsuit concerning the company's alleged mine pollution discharges that had been permitted under a CWA permit. Environmental groups argued the company violated SMCRA by discharging pollutants from point sources at its now-inactive surface coal mine in Virginia. The district court held that where a CWA permit precludes liability under the CWA for certain activities, SMCRA's saving clause bars imposing SMCRA liability for the same actions, and thus found that the groups' claim was barred by the Act's saving clause. The appellate court found that allowing liability to be imposed under SMCRA for discharges that were exempted by permit from CWA liability would "modify" or "supersede" the CWA's permit shield in contravention of the saving clause. It therefore affirmed summary judgment for the coal company.