WT Wins: State Mining and Geology Board Rescinds $11M Civil Penalty and Settles Civil Rights Claim

Weintraub attorney David A. Diepenbrock recently helped persuade the State Mining and Geology Board to rescind one of the largest fines it had ever imposed under the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (“SMARA”), totaling over $11,000,000. The Board purported to impose the fine for, among things, mining without an approved reclamation plan or a reclamation bond. In doing so, the Board ignored the validity of a reclamation plan a quorum of its membership, convened as its Surface Mining Standards Committee, had approved, as well as the reclamation bond the full Board had approved and its staff had received. After receiving overwhelming evidence establishing that the mine had been reclaimed in accordance with SMARA, the Board rescinded the $11,000,000 penalty and returned the operator’s reclamation bond. The Board also paid Weintraub’s client $200,000 to settle the civil rights claims he brought against two Board employees for imposing the $11,000,000 penalty upon him without first giving him notice and an opportunity to be heard. The settlement resolved multiple lawsuits, pending in both state and federal court, and was achieved while Weintraub’s motion for summary judgment was also pending.