Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price ruled that every time an industry or other polluter asked permission to degrade above-average waters the request was granted.
Price stated that ADEM's exemption for projects when improvements would cost ten percent or more was -- quote -- "neither rational nor reasonably justified."
ADEM officials have appealed the ruling and asked Price to reconsider the injunction against most new permits. Price's order, reported in today's Birmingham News newspaper, was issued last month.
ADEM attorney James Wright said the department has 53 permits pending, most of them mines or gravel pits. He said no other measures would be discussed until the appeals process is exhausted.
It's the second time in two years the state has virtually halted its water-permitting program after courts found the same rules illegal.