“We’ll win on appeal…”

In early 2005, Environmental Management Commission Chair Scott Phillips proudly touted the independent analysis of the EMC on the Tuscaloosa Resources, Inc. (TRI) case in March 2004.

Adam Snyder, then director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance, responded, “We’ll win on appeal.” Last week, for the third time, judges disagreed with the conclusions of the “independent analysis” by the EMC, and ruled in favor of the Alliance and Friends of Hurricane Creek, who have been represented by attorney Edwin Lamberth. Again, the Alliance and Friends win on appeal, as promised.

Appeals court upholds ruling against ADEM on permit challenge – Associated Press 12/28/07

The case that originated in 2001 when Tuscaloosa Resources, Inc., a coal mining company, sought a discharge permit to the North Fork of Hurricane Creek, a stream listed as impaired for iron, aluminum, and turbidity (fogginess in the water). The permit, as drafted, would allow – you guessed it – iron, aluminum, and turbidity to be added to the impaired stream. The Friends and the Alliance made comments in protest, but the permit was approved anyway. Over the course of the next two years, the two groups prepared for an appeal hearing with a state-appointed administrative law judge. The judge ruled in favor of the groups to deny the permit.

However, the EMC thought otherwise, and rejecting the hearing officers findings and affirmed the permit. The Alliance and Friends appealed the EMC’s ruling, and the courts affirmed the hearing officer’s findings, and remitted the permit to ADEM for revision. ADEM appealed this ruling, but was denied last week by Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

With the latest ruling, three judges, two environmental groups, and one stream have made it clear that Hurricane Creek cannot, and should not, take the additional impacts this permit has allowed. A very powerful minority continue to keep this issue alive – ADEM, the EMC, TRI, and the Alabama Coal Association.

Should this ruling stand (ADEM could appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court), it would mark the first time a coal permit has been denied in Alabama.

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