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Judge Rules Against Groups Seeking Federal Designation for W.Va. Mountain

A federal judge has ruled againstenvironmental groups who wanted a mountain in West Virginia to be returned to the National Register of Historic Places.Blair Mountain, in southern West Virginia, was the site of a significant battle in the fight to unionize the coalfields. But it's also a mountain in southern West Virginia, which means it has significant coal reserves, and a coal company interested in mining them. There was a march for the mountain last year, and some Louisville residents and Kentuckians attended.Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette has a brief post about the rulingon his blog, Coal Tattoo.

I’ve posted a copy of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton here, but in short, the judge ruled that the citizen groups could not meet one of the requirements to show “ standing” to bring the case, that of “ redressability,” or that a favorable ruling from the court would redress their injury. The judge explained: It is likely, therefore, that surface mining would be permitted on the Blair Mountain Battlefield as a result of permits that were acquired prior to the historic district’s inclusion on the National Register. An order from this Court restoring the Blair Mountain Battlefield to the National Register, therefore, will not prevent mining from occurring should the coal mining companies who own existing permits choose to exercise their rights afforded by the permits. The Court having only a limited ability to redress the plaintiffs’ asserted injuries, the plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden under the final prong of the standing inquiry.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.