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Last updated 11:45AM ET
March 6, 2021
ADEM Loses Appeal in Mine Permit Challenge
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A state appeals court Friday upheld a ruling in favor of two environmental groups that had challenged a permit the state environmental agency granted for mining operations in Tuscaloosa County.

The Alabama Court of Civils Appeals turned back separate appeals filed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Tuscaloosa Resources, Inc., which had sought the permit.

The court upheld an April 2006 ruling by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs Jr. that had struck down the Alabama Environmental Management Commission's decision approving a pollutant discharge permit granted to Tuscaloosa Resources by ADEM.

An administrative law judge had recommended that the commission, which oversees ADEM, overrule ADEM's decision to issue the permit, but the commission in February 2004 voted 4-1 in support of ADEM's action.

Friends of Hurricane Creek, along with Alabama Rivers Alliance, subsequently sued the environmental agency.

At issue in part was whether the North Fork of Hurricane Creek in eastern Tuscaloosa County already failed state water quality standards and was off-limits to further degradation by new sources of pollution.

While the environmental management commission concluded there was no evidence the quality of the water had been degraded, the appeals court said it was compelled to agree with Hobbs' determination that AEMC's finding was "clearly erroneous."

"The overwhelming evidence in this case indicates both that the North Fork is impaired and that TRI's mining will contribute to that impairment," the appeals court said.

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