Environmentalists sue federal agencies
January 29, 2013 ·
Environmental groups that have spent years suing coal companies over water pollution are now threatening to sue federal regulators for failing to ensure adequate enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
The groups have notified the
Environmental Protection Agency of intent to sue the agency within 60 days for
failing to make sure state regulators are doing their jobs.
The environmentalists claim the state
Department of Environmental Protection isn't adequately protecting waterways.
They also claim the Legislature weakened state water-quality standards to favor
the coal industry and protect mountaintop removal mining.
Neither the EPA nor the DEP immediately
The groups argue that EPA should have
rejected as inadequate a list of polluted streams that the state recently
They say the EPA
has the power to rein in state agencies' abuses.
environmentalists are also targeting the U.S. Department of Interior.
litigation against that Department for its removal of a key protection for
streams known as the “Stream Buffer Zone Rule.” The rule was adopted under the
Reagan administration in 1983, and was designed to protect Appalachian streams
from harmful practices used in surface coal mining.
The regulation prohibited strip
mining activities from disturbing areas within 100 feet of streams. The Bush
administration repealed the protection just before leaving office in 2008, and
while the Obama administration agreed the Bush administration’s action was
unlawful, the environmental groups claim the Interior Department has taken too
much time to reinstate the stream buffer rules.