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Permit requirements under the Clean Water Act apply to state agencies engaging in reclamation efforts.
W. Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Inc. v. Huffman, 09-1474, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of an environmental group's request for declaratory and injunctive relief requiring West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for reclamation efforts at abandoned coal mining sites.
In affirming, the court held that the text of the CWA, as well as the corresponding regulations issued by the EPA, confirm that the permit requirements apply to anyone who discharges pollutants into the waters of the United States, and it does not matter that a mining company may have created the conditions that call for reclamation. What matters is that an entity, private or public, is currently discharging pollutants into the waters of the United States, and in fact, the statute contains no exceptions for state agencies engaging in reclamation efforts.
Read the Fourth Circuit's Full Decision in W. Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Inc. v. Huffman, 09-1474