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Appeals court rules against opponents of W.Va. surface coal mine

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Appeals court rules against opponents of W.Va. surface coal mine

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed alower court's rulingthat the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was correct in its decision to notinclude the connection between surface coal mining and public health in anenvironmental review.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other groups hadargued that newresearch on human health impacts of living near surface mines should have beenconsidered by the Corps in issuing a permit related to the Boone No. 5 mine.The Boone County, W.Va., mine permit was requested by Xinergy Ltd., whichemerged frombankruptcy reorganization as WhiteForest Resources Inc.

The court held that the case was materiallyindistinguishable from a prior case settled by the court that also involved theOhio Valley Environmental Coalition. The ruling says the Corps environmentalreview is limited and that its jurisdiction is related to proposed dischargeactivities and not surface mining generally.

"These provisions certainly require the Corps to takeinto account the public-health effects of a proposed discharge of fill materialbefore granting a section 404 [of the Clean Water Act] permit," the filingstates. "They do not, however, create an obligation for the Corps to studythe effects of activities beyond the proposed discharge itself."