Pocahontas PSD Hires Charleston Law Firm
Snowshoe, WV – The Pocahontas County Public Service District board approved the hiring of a Charleston-Morgantown based law firm to replace the former PSD attorney Tom Michael at their regular meeting Tuesday night. Just in time too, as the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection just filed a case against the PSD in Pocahontas County Circuit Court.
The hiring of the law firm of Shuman, McCusky and Slicer was approved on a two to one vote, with PSD Chairman Mark Smith and PSD Tom Shipley in favor. PSD member Amon Tracey explains why he cast his no vote.
“The reason that I do oppose is that I really don’t know enough about those people” says Tracey. “I haven’t read anything about what’s happened to them in the past other than what they told us about.”
Tracey also objects because two members of the firm will handle legal questions for the PSD rather than William Slicer, one of the partners. Attorney Roberta Green will handle questions dealing with regulatory issues, while Attorney Chris Negley will deal with environmental issues. Negley was formerly employed by the WV DEP.
That former association will probably come in handy as the PSD board prepares to respond to the DEP lawsuit filed in Pocahontas Circuit court on August 30th. In the lawsuit, the DEP is seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties for continuing violations of the West Virginia Water Pollution Control Act.
There are four claims for relief in the lawsuit. The first three concern discharge of pollutants from the Snowshoe Village, Inn and Silver Creek plants respectively. DEP claims that since early 2009, all three plants have released pollutants to native streams in excess of limits set by the WPCA.
The fourth claim says that all three plants are in violation of an early 2008 Consent Decree agreed to by the DEP and Snowshoe Mountain Resort. When Snowshoe transferred ownership of these facilities to the PSD in December of 2009, the stipulations of the Consent Decree also transferred.
The DEP cites two reasons for the violation of the Consent Decree by the PSD. One, the discharges of the plants continue to exceed the permit limits. Two, the PSD has failed to provide quarterly reports on the progress of rectifying the discharge violations at the plants.
The WV DEP is asking the circuit court to command the PSD to avoid any and all ongoing violations of the pollutant discharge limits and to comply fully with those specified limits. They are asking the court to assess civil penalties up to $25,000.00 per day for each violation. They also want the PSD to pay all court and attorneys’ fees incurred by DEP concerning this lawsuit.
The Pocahontas Public Service District has 30 days to respond to the filing.