An Alabama federal judge has ruled that Drummond Company is violating the Clean Water Act at its Maxine Mine site by continuously discharging acid mine drainage into the Black Warrior River’s Locust Fork. In an order issued May 7, Judge Abdul Kallon rejected Drummond’s arguments that the Clean Water Act does not apply to ongoing pollution originating from a substantial coalmine waste pile left when mining operations ceased.
The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by Black Warrior Riverkeeper, represented by SELC and Public Justice. This week’s ruling granted Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s motion for summary judgment seeking to hold Drummond liable for these discharges. Additional liability claims by Black Warrior Riverkeeper, as well as the determination of an appropriate remedy for the site, will be determined later at trial.
Up close, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States isn’t as big as you’d expect it to be. From most angles, you can’t even see it until you’re right on top of it.
But hit the right gap in the rolling hills of north-central Alabama, and the James H. Miller Jr. Electric Generating Plant looms large even from miles away. Nestled on about 800 acres on the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River, the plant is one of Alabama Power’s coal-burning workhorses, putting out enough electricity to power about a million homes. It virtually never stops running – and never stops producing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.