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Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition v. Caperton

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20249
Nos. 3:20-0470, (S.D.W. Va., 11/13/2020) (Chambers, J.)

A district court denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's failure to notify the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) of a significant change to the state's special reclamation fund. Environmental groups argued that the Department's failure to notify OSMRE violated SMCRA. The Department moved to dismiss for lack of standing and ripeness, failure to state a claim, res judicata, and Eleventh Amendment immunity. The court found that the groups had alleged sufficient facts to establish standing, that they had established a hardship and presented a claim that was ripe for review, that they presented a plausible claim, that the issue raised was not precluded by West Virginia Highlands Conservancy v. Norton because it was not "actually determined," and that their claim fell under the Ex parte Young exemption and thus was not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. It therefore denied the Department's motion to dismiss.