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Alabama joins W.V. lawsuit; highlights Northern Beltline

By Gary Lloyd

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced Alabama has joined an amicus brief in support of West Virginia’s request for U.S. Supreme Court review of a D.C. Circuit Court decision that upheld an unprecedented Environmental Protection Agency veto of a Clean Water Act permit issued to Mingo Logan Coal Company in West Virginia under Section 404 of the Act.

“The authority asserted by the EPA in the Mingo Logan case is unprecedented,” Bentley said in a prepared statement. “Alabama has joined West Virginia in support of challenging the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion that gave overreaching power to the EPA. If the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court stands and the EPA has unlimited veto authority, all states will be subject to devastating uncertainty with respect to public works projects that require 404 permits under the Clean Water Act.”

A look at the Northern Beltline project
photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Transportation

The case presents a challenge to EPA’s authority to veto a 404 permit issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nearly four years after issuing the permit to Mingo Logan Coal Company in West Virginia. Section 404 requires a permit before any material related to a public works project can be discharged into waters.

Alabama’s segment of the brief highlights the Northern Beltline project, a 52-mile interstate that will link Interstate 459 in Bessemer with Interstate 59 just north of Trussville. The entire corridor is estimated to cost about $5.45 billion and take 30 to 35 years to complete. The first 1.3 miles will connect Alabama Highway 75 and Alabama Highway 79 near Pinson. Construction of the first segment is expected to begin in February. The Corps issued a 404 permit for the first segment of the project in September.

Alabama is one of 26 states joining the brief filed by the attorney general of West Virginia.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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