Tag: permit

On March 14, 2019, the Washington Court of Appeals Division III brought oral arguments in Crown vs Ecology to the Okanogan County Commissioners Hearing Room. The case, in which OHA is an intervener, began with Crown appealing the 2014 renewal of the discharge permit for the mine. After a seven-day trial-like hearing in January 2015, the Pollution Control Hearings Board, decided in favor of Ecology and OHA, affirming that the water surrounding the Buckhorn Mine must be left almost as clean as it was before mining. Crown appealed that decision to the Ferry County Superior Court where Crown also lost. Crown appealed to the Court of Appeal. Crown has asserted that the permit should be stayed (on hold) until the appeal process is exhausted. This assertion has been rejected in each stage of the appeal. While Ecology has issued Notices of Violation, the agency has not yet taken further enforcement action regarding the hundreds of violations.

Click here to listen to the recording of the arguments of this case, #351998.

The Clean Water Act requires that the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit be renewed every five years. The current permit was up for renewal in February 2019, but Ecology has administratively extended it. We can expect that Crown will try to pressure Ecology into making changes in the permit to make it less rigorous. Ecology has said that they do not expect to make substantial changes in the renewal. The 2014 permit appeal is under appeal to the Washington State Court of Appeals. Once the appeal is settled and a permit renewal is considered by Ecology, there will be a public comment period, and it will be important for concerned voices to be heard. OHA will let the public know when Ecology asks the public to comment so those who care about water quality on Buckhorn can speak up.

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