FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
has objected to 19 mountaintop mining permits in Kentucky only days
after Gov. Steve Beshear urged President Barack Obama to ease up on
the state's coal industry.
The EPA notified the Beshear administration on Friday of the
agency's conclusion that the proposed mining operations would cause
environmental harm in the state's mountain region.
"We have significant concerns that these permits will allow
discharges that may cause significant water quality impacts,"
James Giattina, director of the EPA's water protection division
said in a letter.
The EPA's objections pertained only to mountaintop mines. The
agency didn't object to 36 other permits for underground mines and
coal preparation plants in both the eastern and western Kentucky
Beshear had met with Obama at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky
Airport last week and urged him to change federal policies that he
said were costing jobs in Kentucky's mining industry. The governor
followed that meeting with a letter this week in which he said the
EPA has unduly delayed mining permits that could create high-paying
jobs at a time when the nation is struggling to pull out of an
Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett was critical of
the EPA's decision.
"It is important to remember that these 19 objections by the
EPA deny Kentuckians good paying jobs and negatively affects our
ability to provide affordable electricity to our commonwealth and
the nation," Bissett said. "While President Obama and his
political appointees continue to tout the American Jobs Act,
Kentuckians in the coalfields remain very concerned about their
ability to have a job and provide for their families."
Beshear, a Democrat seeking re-election to a second term, shared
similar sentiments with Obama in his meeting and in the letter. He
has been facing criticism from opponents who claim he hasn't done
enough to shield the coal industry from EPA policies.
"We must have a reasoned and pragmatic approach to the
regulation of the coal industry from the EPA or all industries that
rely on affordable energy, not the coal industry, will suffer,"
Beshear said in the letter.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)