US District Court Judge James P. Jones from the Western District of Virginia ruled this weekend that ACLC’s clients can bring a federal suit against the coal company that destroyed their water. The coal company had argued that because the surface mining laws that have allegedly been violated are administered by Virginia, not by the federal government, the federal court lacked jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs’ damage suit. The court ruled that individual plaintiffs can bring their lawsuits against coal operators under SMCRA directly to federal court. The court further ruled that the state need not be made a party to the lawsuit, noting that one of the primary purposes of citizens’ suits is “to provide a means by which citizens can seek enforcement or relief where the regulatory authority has failed to properly enforce the law.”
Judge Jones’ opinion can be found here: 2012-05-06 Order Denying MTD.