Court Hears Arguments in West Virginia Water Cleanup Case

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Environmental groups have asked a federal appeals court to uphold a judge’s finding that West Virginia has shirked its responsibility to write plans to clean up streams harmed by pollution from mountaintop removal coal mining.

The judge’s 2017 ruling said the state has dragged its feet for years on plans required under the federal Clean Water Act.

In arguments before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday, a lawyer for the Justice Department said the state intends to draft the cleanup plans, but has been working to satisfy a 2012 law that requires broadening the way it determines the biological health of streams.

A lawyer for Appalachian Mountain Advocates said the law did not take away the state’s ability to use its current assessment tool to develop cleanup plans.