In 2013 an administrative complaint was filed with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) External Civil Rights Compliance Office alleging that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by allowing a coal ash landfill to operate near the majority African-American town of Uniontown, Alabama.

On March 1 the EPA closed its investigation, finding that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that any violation had occurred. The complaints allege that ADEM had racially discriminated by permitting a landfill in an overwhelmingly black community and had further failed to protect Uniontown residents from unlawful intimidation in the wake of their initial civil rights claim. While not finding sufficient evidence that the permit issuance and modification for the landfill had violated civil rights laws, the EPA did suggest a number of measures that the state agency could use to take a greater leadership role, engage in partnerships with public and private entities and share information to ensure that issues affecting the community are understood and decisions effectively communicated.

For further information on this topic please contact Samuel B Boxerman or Jim Wedeking at Sidley Austin LLP by telephone (+1 202 736 8000) or email (sboxerman@sidley.com or jwedeking@sidley.com). The Sidley Austin LLP website can be accessed at www.sidley.com.

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