Thursday, May 3, 2012
Friends of Mat-Su v. Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. -- The Legal Filing Parts I and II
FRIENDS OF MAT-SU, CASTLE MOUNTAIN COALITION, COOK INLETKEEPER, ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION ON TOXICS, and ALASKA CHAPTER OF THE SIERRA CLUB Plaintiffs,
v. USIBELLI COAL MINE, INC. Defendant.
Case No. 3:12-cv-00093-JWS
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF (30 U.S.C. §§ 1256, 1270; AS 27.21.060)
THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ALASKA
Plaintiffs FRIENDS OF MAT-SU, CASTLE MOUNTAIN COALITION, COOK INLETKEEPER, ALASKA COMMUNITY ACTION ON TOXICS, and the ALASKA CHAPTER OF THE SIERRA CLUB (collectively “Friends of Mat-Su”), by and through their undersigned counsel of record, file this Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, and hereby allege:
I. NATURE OF THE CASE
1. This is a citizen enforcement action brought by Friends of Mat-Su on behalf of themselves, their members and supporters, and the general public against Defendant Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. (“Usibelli”) for conducting surface coal mining operations at the Wishbone Hill Mine (“Wishbone Hill” or “Mine”) without a valid permit in violation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (“SCMRA” or “the Act”), 30 U.S.C. §1201, et seq., and of the rules and regulations that comprise the approved state regulatory program for Alaska (“the Alaska Program”), 30 C.F.R. Part 902.
The Alaska Program consists of the Alaska Surface Coal Mining Control and Reclamation Act (“ASCMCRA”), AS 27.21, and its implementing regulations, 11 AAC 90. Friends of Mat-Su seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and litigation expenses pursuant to the citizen suit provision of SMCRA, 30 U.S.C. § 1270.
Usibelli is the operator at the Wishbone Hill Mine and lessee of the two state coal leases that cover the Mine area, ADL 32144 and ADL 309947.
Usibelli is currently conducting surface coal mining operations at the Wishbone Hill Mine without a valid permit in violation of SMCRA and the Alaska Program. See 30 U.S.C. § 1256(a); AS 27.21.060(a); 11 AAC 90.002; 11 AAC 90.007.
II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter of this action pursuant to Section 520(a) of SMCRA, 30 U.S.C. § 1270(a), and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction).
3. On January 9, 2012, Friends of Mat-Su gave written notice to Usibelli of its violations of SMCRA and the Alaska Program, and of Friends of Mat-Su’s intent to file suit with regard to those violations; Friends of Mat-Su also notified the Secretary of the Interior, the Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (“OSM”), the Regional Director of OSM, and the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) pursuant to 30 U.S.C. § 1270(b)(1)(a) and 30 C.F.R. § 700.13.
A true and correct copy of the notice letter is attached as Exhibit 1.
4. More than sixty days have passed since notice was served on Usibelli and the state and federal agencies. Friends of Mat-Su is informed and believe, and thereon allege, that neither DNR nor OSM has commenced, or is diligently prosecuting, a civil or criminal action against Usibelli for violations of SMCRA or the Alaska Program. Therefore, Friends of Mat-Su is not precluded from bringing this citizen suit. See 30 U.S.C. § 1270(b).
5. Venue is proper in the District of Alaska under § 520(c) of SMCRA, 30 U.S.C. § 1270(c), because the Mine is located within the District of Alaska, in Sutton, Alaska.
6. In addition, venue is proper in the District of Alaska under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because Usibelli resides within the District of Alaska and a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims occurred within the District of Alaska.