Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Association, Inc Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Association, Inc v. Hodel, Nos. 79-1538

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
PartiesDonald Paul HODEL, Acting Secretary of the Interior, Appellant, v. VIRGINIA SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ASSOCIATION, INC., et al. VIRGINIA SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Appellants, v. Donald Paul HODEL, Acting Secretary of the Interior, et al
Docket NumberNos. 79-1538,79-1596
Decision Date15 June 1981

452 U.S. 264
101 S.Ct. 2352
69 L.Ed.2d 1
Donald Paul HODEL, Acting Secretary of the Interior, Appellant,

v.

VIRGINIA SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ASSOCIATION, INC., et al. VIRGINIA SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Appellants, v. Donald Paul HODEL, Acting Secretary of the Interior, et al.

Nos. 79-1538, 79-1596.
Argued Feb. 23, 1981.
Decided June 15, 1981.
Syllabus

A pre-enforcement challenge to the constitutionality of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (Act) was presented in a Federal District Court action wherein the plaintiffs were an association of coal producers engaged in surface coal mining operations in Virginia, some of its member coal companies, individual landowners, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a town (hereinafter appellees). The Act is designed to establish a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations. The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) has primary responsibility for administering the Act by promulgating regulations and enforcing its provisions. A two-stage program for the regulation of surface mining—an interim phase and a permanent phase—is established; and environmental protection performance standards are prescribed. Ultimately, a regulatory program is to be adopted for each State, either by approval of a State's proposed permanent program that meets federal minimum standards, or by adoption of a federal program for any State that chooses not to submit a program. Enforcement of the permanent programs rests either with the participating State or with the Secretary as to nonparticipating States. The District Court, although rejecting appellees' Commerce Clause, equal protection, and substantive due process challenges to the Act, held that the Act violates the Tenth Amendment, that various provisions of the Act effect an uncompensated taking of private property in violation of the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and that some of the Act's enforcement provisions violate procedural due process requirements.

Held: In the context of a facial challenge, the Act is constitutional. Pp. 275-305.

Page 265

(a) The Act does not violate the Commerce Clause as regulating the use of private lands rather than the interstate commerce effects of surface coal mining. In view of the legislative record, which includes extended hearings concerning the effects of surface mining on the Nation's environment and economy and the need for uniform minimum nationwide standards, it cannot be said that Congress did not have a rational basis for its findings, set out in the Act itself, that surface coal mining has substantial effects on interstate commerce. And the Act's regulatory scheme is reasonably related to the goals Congress sought to accomplish the Act's restrictions on the practices of mine operators all serving to control the environmental and other adverse effects of surface coal mining. Pp. 275-283.

(b) Sections 515(d) and (e) of the Act, which prescribe performance standards on "steep slopes," including a requirement that an operator return the site to its "approximate original contour," and which authorize variances from the contour requirement, do not violate any Tenth Amendment limitation on congressional exercise of the commerce power as interfering with the States' "traditional governmental function" of regulating land use. The steep-slope provisions govern only the activities of coal mine operators who are private individuals and businesses, and do not regulate the "States as States." Cf. National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 96 S.Ct. 2465, 49 L.Ed.2d 245. Appellees' contentions that the threat of federal usurpation of their regulatory roles coerces the States into enforcing the Act and that the Act regulates the States as States because it establishes mandatory minimum federal standards are without merit, since the Tenth Amendment does not limit congressional power to preempt or displace state regulation of private activities affecting interstate commerce. Moreover, Congress does not invade areas reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment simply because it exercises its authority under the Commerce Clause in a manner that displaces the States' exercise of their police powers. Pp. 283-293.

(c) The issue whether the Act's steep-slope provisions and § 522(e), which prohibits mining in certain locations, violate the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment is not ripe for judicial resolution. Because appellees' taking claim arose in the context of a facial challenge, it presented no concrete controversy concerning either application of the Act to particular surface mining operations or its effect on specific parcels of land. And the "mere enactment" of the Act does not constitute a taking since it does not deny an owner economically viable use of his land, the Act, except for § 522(e) neither categorically prohibiting surface coal mining nor purporting to regulate alternative uses to which coal-bearing lands may be put. Pp. 293-297.

Page 266

(d) The provisions of §§ 521, 525, and 526 of the Act pertaining to the Secretary's issuance of orders for immediate cessation of a surface mining operation determined to be in violation of the Act do not violate the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Summary administrative action resulting in deprivation of a significant property interest without a prior hearing is justified when, as here, it responds to situations in which swift action is necessary to protect the public health and safety. The objective criteria for the issuance of immediate cessation orders, established by the Act, and the Secretary's implementing regulations, are specific enough to control governmental action and reduce the risk of erroneous deprivation, and mine operators are afforded a prompt and adequate postdeprivation administrative hearing and an opportunity for judicial review. And the District Court erred in reducing to 24 hours the statutorily prescribed 5-day period for the Secretary's response to mine operators' requests for temporary relief from an immediate cessation order. The record does not show that the Secretary has not responded or will not respond in less than five days, which is the statutory maximum, and appellees have not demonstrated that they have been adversely affected by the 5-day period in a particular case or that it is generally unreasonable. In addition, no evidence was introduced to show that a shorter reply period is administratively feasible. Pp. 298-303.

(e) Appellees' due process challenge to the Act's provisions for the imposition of civil penalties for violations of cessation orders is premature. Appellees did not allege that they, or any one of them, have had civil penalties assessed against them, and there was no finding that any of appellee coal mine operators have been affected or harmed by any of statutory procedures for the assessment and collection of fines. P.p. 303-304.

D.C., 483 F.Supp. 425, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Peter Buscemi, Washington, D. C., for appellant in 78-1538 and for appellees in 79-1596.

Page 267

Marshall Coleman, Richmond, Va., for appellees in 79-1538 and for appellants in 79-1596.

[Amicus Curiae Information from pages 267-268 intentionally omitted]

Page 268

Justice MARSHALL, delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases arise out of a pre-enforcement challenge to the constitutionality of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (Surface Mining Act or Act), 91 Stat. 447, 30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq. (1976 ed., Supp.III). The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia declared several central provisions of the Act unconstitutional and permanently enjoined their enforcement. 483 F.Supp. 425 (1980). In these appeals, we consider whether Congress, in adopting the Act, exceeded its powers under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution,1 or transgressed affirmative limitations on the exercise of that power contained in the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. We conclude that in the context of a facial challenge, the Surface Mining Act does not suffer from any of these alleged constitutional defects, and we uphold the Act as constitutional.

I
A.

The Surface Mining Act is a comprehensive statute designed to "establish a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations." § 102(a), 30 U.S.C. § 1202(a) (1976 ed., Supp.III). Title II of the Act, 30 U.S.C. § 1211 (1976 ed., Supp.III), creates the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), within the Department of the Interior, and the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) acting through OSM, is charged with primary responsibility for ad-

Page 269

ministering and implementing the Act by promulgating regulations and enforcing its provisions. § 201(c), 30 U.S.C. § 1211(c) (1976 ed., Supp.III). The principal regulatory and enforcement provisions are contained in Title V of the Act, 91 Stat. 467-514, 30 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1279 (1976 ed., Supp.III). Section 501, 30 U.S.C. § 1251 (1976 ed., Supp.III), establishes a two-stage program for the regulation of surface coal mining: an initial, or interim regulatory phase, and a subsequent, permanent phase. The interim program mandates immediate promulgation and federal enforcement of some of the Act's environmental protection performance standards, complemented by continuing state regulation. Under the permanent phase, a regulatory program is to be adopted for each State, mandating compliance with the full panoply of federal performance standards, with enforcement responsibility lying with either the State or Federal Government.

Section 501(a) directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations establishing an interim regulatory program during which mine operators will be required to comply with some of the Act's...

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1110 practice notes
  • Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement,
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    • Federal Register December 19, 2000
    • December 19, 2000
    ...This approach is established in SMCRA, and has been judicially affirmed. See Hodel versus Virginia Surface Mining and Reclamation Ass'n, 452 U.S. 264 (1981). 2. What is the effect on existing Federal law or regulation, if any, including all provisions repealed or This rule modifies the impl......
  • Initial and permanent regulatory programs: Surface coal mining and reclamation operations— Valid existing rights (VER) definition and claims submission and processing procedures,
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    ...for the reasons advanced by the commenters. Many commenters characterized Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n, 452 U.S. 264, 296 n.37 (1981) (``Hodel v. VSMRA'') as representing a rejection of a permit-based standard for VER, or at least an indication that the courts wo......
  • Environmental Protection Agency,
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    ...needs.' '' Commonwealth of Virginia v. Browner (80 F.3d 869, 883 (1996) (quoting Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n, 452 U.S. 264, 289, 101 S.Ct. 2352, 2367-68 The intent to create a cooperative relationship for air pollution control is effected by the other provisions......
  • Environmental Protection Agency,
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    ...needs.' '' Commonwealth of Virginia v. Browner (80 F.3d 869, 883 (1996) (quoting Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n, 452 U.S. 264, 289, 101 S.Ct. 2352, 2367-68 The intent to create a cooperative relationship for air pollution control is effected by the other provisions......
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    ...F.2d 941, 22 ELR 20331 (1991), cert. denied , 504 U.S. 940 (1992) .......... 74, 164, 166 Hodel v. Va. Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass’n, 452 U.S. 264, 11 ELR 20569 (1981) ....141 Hoffman Group, Inc. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 902 F.2d 567, 20 ELR 20884 (7th Cir. 1990) ........................
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