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Judge allows lawsuit to go forward with claims that mining permits threaten endangered fish

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A federal judge in Knoxville says environmental groups can go forward with a lawsuit claiming two East Tennessee surface mines threaten endangered fish.

The suit claims federal agencies did not use the most up-to-date science when issuing mining permits at Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek. It claims runoff from the mines is high in dissolved salts, making nearby streams too salty for the blackside dace and Cumberland darter.

The federal agencies wanted the lawsuit dismissed. Among other things, they noted that National Coal LLC has ceased mining at Zeb Mountain.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves said the case can move forward. She said the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement has jurisdiction at Zeb Mountain until reclamation is complete and can still order changes there.

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