Possible Rule Reversal on Surface Mining

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

The Obama administration is pushing for rules that would make it more difficult for coal companies to dump waste near steams, reversing a policy put in place by former president George W. Bush.

Coal officials say the rule reversal would change very little in their day to day work, but it could lead to more action in the courtroom. Robert Ray says surface mining practices have come a long way over the years.

"The way that the rule is written now, it's tighter than it was environmentally before. We have to now go through a number of steps to minimize our footprint, to minimize the amount of fill that we put out," says Ray, Land Manager for Pine Branch Coal in Chavies.

He says the rule reversal would be a major blow on the legal front. "If they change 95-87 back to the way it was, I think all that that does it that it probably does open us up to more lawsuits."

President of the Kentucky Coal Association Bill Caylor says, "It's going to open up the door for a lot more lawsuits filed, trying to find the achilles heel of the industry to shut it down."

Caylor says environmentalists would be at the forefront of the legal battles.

"I don't think anybody in their right mind can look at a mountain top and say that's okay," says Truman Hurt with Kentuckians For the Commonwealth.

"If they keep litigating certain issues, they will hit on an issue that will severely restrict the ability of a coal company to mine coal," says Caylor. He calls the possible reversal "frustrating" while others are showing their support for what president Obama wants to do.

"I hope that he'll go through with this, and enforce the law, and do something right for Kentucky," says Hurt.

Coal officials say local mines will see zero change. Bill Caylor says by no means is this the beginning of the end of coal mining, and we will just have to wait and see if the courts agree to reverse the ruling.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 5, 2011 at 11:36 PM
    The deforestation that surface mining has caused has actually had a comparable amount of 1.6 billion carbon emissions to the 6 billion that fossil fuels emit. Reforestation is necessary. When mining it is near impossible to fully reclaim the land, you can not plant most trees on the land because they will not have enough supplemental soil to root themselves. Yes, coal mining is necessary but we need to remember the effects and work to bring new resources to the surface of this issue. Tree huggers are here for a reason, some of them may do it just for the living tree but some of us do it for our atmosphere which is now so blocked with greenhouse gasses that it is no longer letting solar rays to exit it and creating "climate change" to be politically correct. Do research before you comment please because some of our population may die if we don't change.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 29, 2009 at 03:56 PM
    A lot of those underground miners survived because they now work on surface mines. I agree, coal will not be here forever, but at least when it is gone we will have land for development for other industry. The sad thing is that most of the coal severance tax money that was supposed to be used to build better roads and utilities in this area for industry when coal is gone has built most of the roads where these tree huggers live.
  • by To Josh on Apr 29, 2009 at 04:53 AM
    You hit the nail on the head, Josh. Mountain top removal mining has taken away most of the mining jobs because it requires less men. Those jobs are never coming back, yet those men who were laid off survivied. The coal will eventually be gone, and what will they do then? They will do something else, just like all the underground miners have done. Yes we will need the coal until we have completely replaced it with something else. At least we have a president who understands that now, and has a plan for greener energy.
  • by Mr. Bill on Apr 29, 2009 at 04:11 AM
    Oh lets save the rattle snakes and rock cliffs, so we can enjoy life as we strave to death.I'm amazzed by the idoits who have no idea what they are talking about.What we need in country is too over power and rid our self of the socialist commie democrats.They are destorying our freedoms, our livily hoods,and our way of life.All for ideas that are pure bunk.We need to shut down our public school systems and get some real teachers.Before our kids are completely brain washed,into being low life parasitic democrats.
  • by TO THE COAL HUGGER Location: KY on Apr 28, 2009 at 09:10 PM
    MOST OF THE MOUNTIAN TOP REMOVAL JOBS THAT I HAVE BEEN ON ARE TAKE ALOT OF COAL SEAMS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN DEEP MINED, GETTING THE PILLARS THAT WERE LEFT, AND THE SMALLER SEEMS ABOVE AND BELOW THAT ARE TO THIN, OR UNSAFE TO DEEP MINE. FACT IS THIS RULING WILL MAKE IT HARD ON ALL COAL MINING. CONTOUR MINES NEED SOME HOLLOW FILLS, IF YOU CAN NOT CONTOUR MINE HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FACE UP ANY DEEP MINES. IF THESE TREE HUGGERS END MOUNTIAN TOP REMOVEL, IT WILL NOT STOP THERE. I WOULD RATHER HAVE SOME RECLAIMED MOUNTIAN TOP, THAN SAY A NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP IN MY BACK YARD. WIND ENERGY HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN. IF COAL ENDS BEFORE AND ALTERNITIVE IS FOUND NUCLEAR WILL BE IN. THERE NOT GOING TO BURY THAT WASTE AROUND ANY BIG CITIES. ITS NOT SAFE TO HAUL VERY FAR. THINK ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU JUMP BLINDLY ON THAT BAND WAGON.
  • by Jack Location: Harlan poor house on Apr 28, 2009 at 09:02 PM
    Quit whinning, obama won..get a job making wind mills etc. but you can be sure, when the county judges etc. run again every single one of them will run on going to get factories and jobs galore for everyone, sinse they are all demorcrats and thus for killing babies and same sex marrage etc etc, they are immoral so, just how can good come from bad.....keep voting for the democrat party and keep whinning.
  • by john weaver Location: berea on Apr 28, 2009 at 07:20 PM
    I support pres. obama's possible reversal of Bush policy of mtr
  • by paige on Apr 28, 2009 at 07:06 PM
    I think its time for everyone to wake up you think attacking coal is helping anything.You think kids here wont end up going hungry! What other job do you think are in this area? Because i can tell you there are not. You think people are ending up in camps because they arent willing to work. Come off your high horse and take a real good look at the world. Its not getting better its getting worse.By the way miners are the hardest working family men you'll ever meet.They aren't just handed thing on a silver plater they work for it!
  • by Anonymous on Apr 28, 2009 at 06:37 PM
    Rare cancer from mine pollution. How many kids have grown up and developed this rare cancer from playing in the dirt as a kid? You have to use the word pollution, because if you used dirt or rock it would not sound as bad. There needs to be more education on the mining process, and how areas are greatly improved by mining. How come you never see a picture of a reclaimed surface mine in the news? I guess there is not enough doom and gloom for a news story.
  • by EKY chick Location: Hazard on Apr 28, 2009 at 06:13 PM
    If we don't have clean air and water, what is the point? Besides a recent industry report indicated that more deep mines would likely close up shop if restrictions on valley fills were lifted. Remember those numbers about deep mines employing more workers? Furthermore, when companies have been forced to FOLLOW THE LAW and not bury streams, they have changed their mining plans to accommodate. Translation: the sky is not falling. I'm pretty sure it's in everyone's interest to protect our resources like our mountains and streams as we working towards transitioning to a different economy...you know since we're going to have to because coal is a finite resource and will run out sooner than we think...by some estimates we're talking 20-30 years of economically-recoverable coal. I love mountains, miners, and the prospects of a better future.

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