EPA hearings scheduled in KY next week

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

The EPA is set to have two hearings in Kentucky next week.

The EPA will hear arguments on 36 specific mine permits that the EPA has put on hold.

Some are calling it a step towards cleaner streams and waterways in the region, while others say its killing the economy.

The tradition of coal in the mountains runs deep, so deep that the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce says it's the one industry that determines the success of the rest of the businesses in their county.

"Our entire economic base is coal mining, so if you take that away we don't have a secondary industry here," said Jennifer Lee, Director of the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce.

She says not a lot of permits have been granted in Harlan County to mine coal recently, something she hopes citizens in her community will come fight against at the hearings.

"We are encouraging the citizens of our community to come to the hearing to let their voice be heard," said Lee.

Roy Silver who is a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth says there is a reason for the hold on the permits.

He says since 2009, the EPA have given out 2,500 permits in Kentucky and only 36 are being called into question.

He says the EPA is holding up these permits only because they would pollute waterways.

"As long as they don't pollute, as long as they don't contaminate the waterways. This really isn't about mining at all, it's about them wanting to pollute rivers and streams," said Silver.

You can sign up on the EPA's website if you would like to give oral or written comment at the hearings.

One will be held Tuesday in Frankfort, and the other on Thursday in Pikeville.

Mountain News tried to contact EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, but we were routed to their regional office in Atlanta.

No one there would give us a comment. They just sent us the news release about the hearings.

Many will attend both hearings and the State Senate Majority Floor leader will testify at the capitol.

Senator Robert Stivers said he plans on talking about how the permit issues affect his family and others.

He said he believes appalachian coal operations are being unfairly denied the opportunity to produce more coal.

"Does it bother you as an individual? Yes, it does me as an individual because I want to see my son have a good living, I want to see my children benefit from an investment their grandfather made," said Stivers.
"On top of that it bothers me how it affects the people in the district and how dependent we are on it to see it attacked and singled out, this region to be singled out more than any other region in the united states."

Stivers said he believes there will be more layoffs and higher energy costs if permits continue to be denied.

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