"Selenium is an element that can be released into streams during surface mining, road-building and other activities involving excavation," Estep notes. Under old regulations, "Kentucky’s water quality standard for selenium is based on the amount of the substance that’s in the water," Erica Peterson reports for WFPL Radio in Louisville. Under the new rules, "If water testing reveals levels that are above a certain benchmark, that will trigger fish-tissue testing."
The environmental groups—Kentucky Waterways Alliance, the Sierra Club, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and Appalachian Voices, "argue that approach is wrong because it would exempt streams where there are no fish but where there may be other aquatic life," Estep writes. "The rule wouldn't protect salamanders and crayfish, for instance, the lawsuit said." Eric Chance of Appalachian Voices told Estep the new rule is "just a novel way of letting polluters off the hook for poisoning our fish and waterways."
Kentucky regulators disagreed, Estep reports: "The rules are based on sound science and will protect the state's streams, Bruce Scott, commissioner of the state Department for Environmental Protection, said in April when a legislative panel approved the change." (Read more)