Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear, joined forces with the Kentucky Coal Association and filed suit against the EPA this week over the agency’s blocking of coal mining permits in the Blue Grass State. The block came back in April when the EPA filed a memo that stated the new permits didn’t jive with clean water standards. The lawsuit against the EPA, which was filed in U.S. District Court, claims the EPA’s decision is a violation of the 1977 Clean Water Act.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association wrote an email where he said the EPA is undertaking an "illegal agenda to end coal mining in Kentucky."
As for Beshear, he isn’t holding back either. The governor released a press release saying, "Kentucky can and does mine coal while at the same time protecting Kentucky's environment.”
While Beshear’s comments are direct, they don’t match up with several accounts from organizations within his own state. A quick search on the Herald-Leader’s
website reveals that several groups claim Kentucky isn’t doing all it can to mine coal while protecting Kentucky’s environment, as the governor claimed. One report from earlier in the month
claims that two Kentucky mine companies have violated the 1977 Clean Water Act 20,000 times over the last two years. Specifically, the accusations claim that the violations are generally related to fraudulent environmental reports filed by the Frasure Creek Mining Company and ICG, another mining company.
In September, the Mine Safety and Health Administration reported hundreds of violations in Kentucky’s mines, which triggered Joseph A. Main of the MSHA to say, "They don't yet understand the value of safety in our nation's mines. That's got to change."
So, while claims of safety on behalf of the Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Minning Association don’t seem to match up with the deluge of violations reported in Kentucky, the next battle over mining in Kentucky looks like it will be fought in the court system. Stay tuned.