Statement in Response to Adverse Decision in Black Creek Mine Challenge

Birmingham, AL—Late last week, an Alabama federal court issued a decision affirming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's approval of a permit authorizing coal mining material to be dumped into streams that feed into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the challenge on behalf of Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Defenders of Wildlife, arguing that the agency failed to account for the permit’s adverse effects, including compromised water quality and threats to aquatic wildlife. The groups are determining potential options in response to the adverse decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Southern Division.

“We are disappointed with the decision, especially considering the serious harm this coal mine poses to water quality and wildlife throughout this important stretch of the Locust Fork,” said Sarah Stokes, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is another example where the agencies have failed to fulfill their respective responsibilities by continuing to allow large amounts of stream filling with inadequate protections and mitigation measures.”

“It is keenly disappointing to see yet another flawed permit issued by the Corps that fails to properly limit the impacts of surface coal mining on water quality, aquatic habitat, and sensitive species in the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River,” said Nelson Brooke, Black Warrior Riverkeeper. “The permit authorizes the filling and destruction of streams and wetlands, which flow into designated critical habitat for a number of rare aquatic species. The Locust Fork is home to numerous endangered species, including the Black Warrior waterdog, the flattened musk turtle, the Cahaba shiner, the plicate rocksnail, and numerous mussels.  The Black Warrior waterdog and the threatened flattened musk turtle, found only in the upper Black Warrior system, are critically imperiled by impacts from coal mining like those proposed at the Black Creek Mine. The Corps is responsible for ensuring that surface mining operations comply with the Clean Water Act, but the Corps has failed to uphold the law to the detriment of fish and wildlife which depend on clean water.”

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About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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