The HLS Environmental Law and Policy (ELP) Clinic, under the direction of Assistant Clinical Professor Wendy Jacobs and Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho ’01, has filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition v. United States Army Corps of Engineers. The brief was filed on behalf of Trout Unlimited, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and watersheds.

The case, which has not yet been scheduled for oral argument, involves an appeal of a Fourth Circuit decision interpreting a section of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to permit the Army Corps of Engineers to issue permits to coal mining companies to engage in activities that would result in the burial of more than 13 miles of Appalachian streams.

In the amicus brief – filed on behalf of Trout Unlimited in support of the appellant, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition – the ELP Clinic argues that the Fourth Circuit’s reading of the CWA to allow the permits contradicts the plain language of the Act. The ELP Clinic notes that this case is especially important because, although it only bears directly on the issuance of four permits, there are more than 100 similar permit applications pending.

The ELP Clinic urges the Court to hear the case because the Fourth Circuit’s decision to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to issue this particular type of permit will have serious implications for the freshwater environment in Appalachia, and the environmental damage caused will also harm the Appalachian economy by interfering with the sport fishing industry.