NRDC Praises Federal Court Decision that Administration Rule Change Allowing Mining Waste to be Dumped in Waterways is Illegal

Statement by Daniel Rosenberg, NRDC staff attorney

WASHINGTON (May 8, 2002) -- Today, Federal District Court Judge Charles H. Haden II ruled that all permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to allow mining waste to be discharged into waterways are inconsistent with the federal Clean Water Act and therefore illegal. He further ruled that the new regulations signed by the Corps and Environmental Protection Agency last Friday to legalize this practice are not within those agencies' authority under the Clean Water Act and contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the law. (See or for the opinion.)

"The mining industry and scores of other industrial polluters received a gift last week from the Bush administration at the expense of our nation's waterways. The administration reversed a 25-year-old Clean Water Act rule that flatly prohibited disposal of mining and other industrial solid wastes into the nation's waters. To avoid a citizen lawsuit aimed at protecting Appalachian residents and the environment, the administration declared that all waters across the country are now open to industry for waste disposal. This single act, described by the Environmental Protection Agency with Orwellian perfection as a 'clarification' that will 'enhance environmental protection of our wetlands and streams,' would have been the most significant weakening of Clean Water Act rules since the act was passed in 1972.

"You can fool some of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but the Bush administration could not fool Judge Haden."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages

The Bush Record: Mining Policy