In October, a federal district court in Virginia confirmed that citizens have more rights when conducting mine inspections than state and federal regulatory agencies had allowed.
The case was filed on behalf of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards and the Sierra Club by Matt Hepler, who now works for Appalachian Voices, the publisher of this paper. He filed the lawsuit after being routinely denied the right to accompany Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy inspectors to collect water samples at coal mining sites.
The recent court case confirmed a citizen’s right to accompany mine inspections as established by state and federal laws.
“The decision is an improvement for citizen participation in [federal surface mine law] enforcement, and an important victory for those who wish to monitor the health of their streams,” Hepler said in a statement. — Elizabeth E. Payne