Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kentucky, like West Virginia, sues EPA to protect mountaintop removal coal-mining

Earlier this month we reported West Virginia had filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try and stop the agency's crackdown on mountaintop removal coal mining. On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's administration and Kentucky coal industry representatives filed a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, which said "the EPA's blocking of state-issued permits over water pollution standards put forth in an April memo amount to the executive branch taking legislative action and an improper deviation from the Clean Water Act of 1977," Dori Hjalmarson of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Blocking state-issued permits is part of an "illegal agenda to end coal mining in Kentucky," Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett said in an e-mail to the state Legislative Research Commission. "This EPA continues to act without any consideration for the law, so it is our hope that the federal court system will find that the EPA's actions are being made based on political ideology alone, with no connection to actually protecting the environment." Beshear directed the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to join in the lawsuit, Hjalmarson writes.

"Kentucky can and does mine coal while at the same time protecting Kentucky's environment," Beshear said in a news release. "However, the arbitrary and unreasonable decisions being made by the EPA threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners who depend on mining for their livelihood." Tom FitzGerald, executive director of the Kentucky Resources Council, told Hjalmarson that Beshear's move was "disappointing and unseemly" and EPA is "well within its rights." (Read more)

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