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Proposal Could Halt Mountaintop Removal

By: Peter O'Connor Email
By: Peter O'Connor Email

A proposal that some say could halt mountaintop removal in Kentucky is expected to be voted on soon in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Environmentalists love the bill, coal companies hate it.

Coal insiders say if the measure passes, it will slow any growth to Eastern Kentucky's economy but environmentalists say they don't care about more jobs if it means they have to bathe in and drink bad water.

Environmentalists say they are tired of getting bad water from coal companies.

"I suffer from that, where I live nobody has adequate drinking water," said Raul Urias.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Member Raul Urias says enough is enough and that is why he supports House Bill 569. The measure would prohibit coal companies from dumping dirt and rock from mountaintops into streams and valleys.

"Unfortunately I have to bathe in it, my family has to bathe in it but we do have a small amount of drinking water supplied to us through the coal company agreement," Urias said.

Others say the legislation will impose unfair restrictions on the coal companies.

"In the Bluegrass, they call it industrial development. In the mountains, they call it destruction," said Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman.

Gorman says it could hurt the region's ability to grow and create jobs.

"The development of the mountains has come by proper development and I'm not saying go out there and do anything, but I'm saying at the right place at the right time we're furnishing jobs," Gorman said.

Environmentalists like Raul Urias say more jobs is good, but not at the expense of others.

The legislative panel expects to vote on the measure soon.

The bill was scheduled to be voted on by the legislative panel Wednesday, but lawmakers say not enough members were present.


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