Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 10. Virginia Coal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1979
6/26/2022

§ 45.2-1022. (Effective October 1, 2021) Citizen suits; rights of citizens to accompany inspectors.

A. Except as provided in subsection B or C, any person having an interest that is or could be adversely affected may, in order to compel compliance with the provisions of this chapter, commence a civil action on his own behalf against:

1. The United States, any other governmental instrumentality or agency, or any person alleged to be in violation of any provision of this chapter or of any regulation, order, or permit issued pursuant thereto; or

2. The Director, when there is alleged a failure of the Director to perform any act or duty under this chapter that is not a discretionary act on the part of the Director.

B. No action shall be commenced under subdivision A 1:

1. Prior to 60 days after the plaintiff has given written notice of the violation to the Secretary, the Director, and any alleged violator; or

2. If the Commonwealth or the Secretary has commenced and is diligently prosecuting a civil or criminal action in a court of the United States or the Commonwealth to require compliance with the provisions of this chapter, or any regulation, order, or permit issued pursuant to this chapter, so long as in any such action in a court of the Commonwealth, any person is entitled to intervene as a matter of right.

C. No action shall be commenced under subdivision A 2 prior to 60 days after the plaintiff has given written notice of such action to the Director in a manner prescribed by regulation. However, such action may be brought immediately after such notification in any case in which it is alleged that a violation or order would constitute an imminent threat to the health or safety of the plaintiff or would immediately affect a legal interest of the plaintiff.

D. Any action with respect to a violation of this chapter or a regulation adopted hereunder may be brought only in the circuit court of the county or city in which the surface coal mining operation complained of is located. In any such action commenced under the provisions of this section, the Director may intervene as a matter of right, whether or not the Director is a party to the action.

E. The court, in issuing any final order in any action brought pursuant to subsection A, may award costs of litigation, including attorney and expert witness fees, to any party if the court determines such award is appropriate. If a preliminary injunction is sought, the court may require the filing of a bond or equivalent security in accordance with the rules of civil procedure.

F. Nothing in this section shall restrict any common-law or statutory right of any person or class of persons to seek enforcement of any provision of this chapter or the regulations adopted hereunder or to seek any other relief, including relief against the Director.

G. Any person who as a result of the violation by any operator of any regulation, order, or permit issued pursuant to this chapter suffers injury to his person or property may bring an action for damages, including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees. Such action shall be brought only in the circuit court of the county or city in which the surface coal mining operation complained of is located. Nothing in this subsection shall affect the rights established by or limits imposed under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act (§ 65.2-100 et seq.).

H. Whenever information provided to the Director by any person results in any inspection, the Director shall notify such person of the time at which the inspection is scheduled to occur, and such person shall be allowed to accompany the inspector during the inspection.

1980, c. 510, § 45.1-246.1; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.