Federal Judge: Army Corps Of Engineers Not Required To Consider Full Effects Of Mining

Aug 27, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A federal court decision has cleared the way for James River Coal to mine 756 acres of mountain on the Perry-Knott county line. A U.S. District Judge ruled the Army Corps of Engineers does not have to consider the cumulative health impact caused by surface mining before it issues a permit.

The decision late last week by U.S. District Senior Judge Thomas Russell of Louisville also sets the stage for James River Coal to bury three-and-a-half miles of streams with the loose dirt and rocks left after reclamation.

The ruling is a defeat for the Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, who had filed a lawsuit last year challenging the Corps’ process for granting permits. The groups argued that the Corp had not taken into account new evidence that people who live close to surface mines are at a higher risk for cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.

Judge Russell concluded that the Corps is not obliged to consider the cumulative effects of mining – only the effects of pollutants coal operators are authorized to release into waterways.