Conservation groups sue feds in bid to protect endangered species from Appalachian coal mining – by Ryan Knappenberger (Courthouse News – November 8, 2023)

The endangered Guyandotte River crayfish, one of three at-risk species centered in the lawsuit, has suffered a 93% habitat loss due to coal mining activity in the region, conservationists say, limiting the species to just two creeks in West Virginia.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday urging the federal government to enact protections for endangered fish and crawfish found in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia as they groups say nearby coal mining operations are driving the species to potential extinction.

The suit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Appalachian Voices in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, slammed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying the agency had ignored the significant impacts of coal mining sedimentation and approved hundreds of mining permits without the required protections.

The environmental groups list the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement as a second defendant in the suit. The agency is the regulatory body in charge of enforcing environmental and health requirements on coal mines and mitigating the impacts of such mines after they are closed or abandoned.

“Every state and federal agency responsible for implementing endangered species protections is asleep behind the wheel,” Perrin de Jong, staff attorney for the Center, said in a statement.

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