West Virginia top court blocks order for replacement water

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia’s highest court has blocked a judge’s order requiring a mining company provide replacement drinking water to residents who said its wastewater impoundment contaminated their wells.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Allen Loughry writes that the judge lacked the authority to make such an order in 2016 under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The state Department of Environmental Protection had investigated, concluding Eastern Associated Coal’s impoundment wasn’t the cause.

Wyoming County residents filed their initial complaint with the state in 2011.

Loughry writes that their lawsuit was based on the theory the DEP failed to do its duty.

He says that would be upheld “only if the DEP had failed to issue a notice of violation in the face of unmistakable evidence.”

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