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U.S. Supreme Court

High Court Takes Up Environmental Dispute Involving Permit Authority

Posted Jun 27, 2008 11:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an environmental challenge to a gold mining company’s plan to dump waste in a lake in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

At issue is whether the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to issue a permit for the dumping if the action would violate pollution regulations under the Clean Water Act, SCOTUSblog reports. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated the permit, finding the dumping would kill all the fish and most of the aquatic life in the lake, the Associated Press reports.

The Corps had issued the permit after it agreed to a regulatory change with the Environmental Protection Agency that classified the waste as “fill material” that could be regulated by the Corps, according to a petition for certiorari (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog).

The case consolidates two lawsuits, Coeur Alaska Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and State of Alaska v. SACC.

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