The Stream, June 5, 2019: West Virginia Coal Companies Face Water-Pollution Lawsuit

The Global Rundown

A group of environmental organizations says they intend to sue coal companies in West Virginia due to alleged water pollution. Authorities seize former Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s cell phone and hard drive as part of the ongoing Flint water crisis investigation. Scotland says its whiskey distilleries had to shut down last year after running out of water amid a heatwave and drought. Almost 400 roads are closed in Missouri as the Mississippi River approaches record-high levels. Tribes outside Los Angeles, California, fight for the rights to their groundwater.

“We’re a resource colony for Los Angeles. We are impacted by the decisions made in Los Angeles, and really have no ability to influence those decisions.” –Alan Bacock, the water program coordinator for the Owens Valley Big Pine Paiute tribe, in reference to huge amount of water that are pumped out of the valley to serve sprawling Los Angeles. Indigenous tribes in the Owens Valley once enjoyed a bountiful water supply, but Los Angeles county now owns hundreds of thousands of acres in the area, and pumps away a huge portion of groundwater. Reuters

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By The Numbers

60 Current and former Michigan officials included in an electronic devices search warrant that was signed on May 19 as part of the investigation into the Flint water crisis. The search warrant includes the iPhone, iPad tablet and hard drive of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Reuters

In context: Circle of Blue’s coverage of the Flint water crisis.

Almost 400 Roads closed in northeastern Missouri as the Mississippi River rises toward record-high levels set in 1993. The Midwestern U.S. is enduring months of repeated flooding. Currently, deluges are affecting parts of Michigan, as well as the Mississippi, Illinois, and Arkansas rivers. TIME

In context: Historic Missouri River Flood Damages Water Infrastructure.

Science, Studies, and Reports

Several environmental groups, including the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club, issued “notice of intent to sue” letters to nine coal companies in West Virginia on Tuesday, arguing that coal facilities in the state have illegally dumped pollutants into surrounding waterways. The green groups argue that proof of the violations is found in routine reports submitted by mining companies to state regulators, and say the polluters should be held accountable. Reuters

On the Radar

Whiskey distilleries in Scotland revealed this week that they were forced to halt operations for the month of September 2018 after running out of water. The shortage was due to unusually hot temperatures and below-average rainfall, and the industry warns that a similar problem could happen again this summer. The Guardian

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