INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three environmental groups have appealed an Indiana administrative judge's recent ruling on a state permit that allows Peabody Energy to operate the largest surface coal mine east of the Mississippi River — an operation the groups contend is fouling nearby waterways with coal waste.
The Sierra Club, the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Environmental Law & Policy Center filed their appeal Friday in Sullivan County, in southwestern Indiana, where the Bear Run mine is located. Last year, that sprawling mine produced nearly 8 million tons of coal.
The groups contend state environmental law Judge Catherine Gibbs erred in portions of her Sept. 11 ruling on their challenge to the mine's general permit issued in 2010 and argue her decision fails to protect nearby rivers and streams from the mine's coal waste runoff, such as mercury and arsenic.
Gibbs had sided with the groups on their contention that Indiana failed to fully assess that waste's impact on local waterways when it issued that permit, but she ruled against all of their other claims.
That included their contention that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management should have approved an individual permit for the mine. Such a permit would have required Peabody Energy to thoroughly study the mine's wastewater discharges and analyze the area's waterways.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that IDEM require an individual permit for the mine.
In their appeal, the environmental groups ask that a Sullivan County judge review Gibb's decision on seven grounds, stating that her order "endorses action by IDEM that is arbitrary, capricious and not in accordance with law."
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