DK Excavating, Inc. v. Miano

549 S.E.2d 280 (2001)

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DK Excavating, Inc. v. Miano

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
549 S.E.2d 280 (2001)

Facts

DK Excavating, Inc. (DK) (plaintiff) purchased two acres of land with the intent of building an equipment shop and yard. DK went to the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection (department) (defendant) and department director Michael Miano (defendant) with a request. Specifically, DK asked the department whether DK could remove and sell coal from the property without a surface mining permit under the West Virginia Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (WVSMCRA). The department responded that proposed regulations were pending with the federal government that would allow DK’s requested actions but that the actions were not permissible under current law. A state board finalized the decision, and DK appealed to the courts. The lower court concluded that DK’s proposed actions did not fall under the WVSMCRA’s definition of “surface mining,” which had been amended to exclude coal extraction authorized as incidental to other uses of the land. But the federal government had disapproved this definition as inconsistent with the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The department appealed, claiming that the lower court’s ruling violated preemption principles. Thus, the parties did not dispute the applicability of the WVSMCRA’s exemption to DK—they disputed only the validity of the exemption itself.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Albright, J.)

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