Hundreds of coal miners, coal supporters and environmentalists from across the state were in Frankfort Tuesday night at an EPA hearing about the agency's hold on 36 mine permits.
Some say it is costing jobs while others say it is protecting waterways.
Those who signed up in advance were able to stand and speak for two minutes each about whether they supported the EPA's regulations or were against the holds on these 36 specific mine permits.
Hundreds were inside the Frankfort Convention Center listening and participating while hundreds more waited outside in support.
With both a clean environment and the coal industry at stake, emotions were running high during this public hearing.
People from both sides stood up.
“I am a coal miner. I've been a coal miner for 20 something years and will be until the day I die,” Representative Fitz Steele said.
“Just sets me and my generation up to live in a world where the water is not safe to drink nor the air safe to breathe,” 12-year-old Myles Maxson said.
Some hoping to change the EPA's decision to continue holding these mine permits saying jobs, energy, and the state's economy are at risk.
“Do the right and fair thing and let our permits free so we can put our people back to work,” KY Senate President David Williams said.
Or in an effort to encourage the regulations promoting clean waterways and people's health and safety.
“The health of Kentuckians who live near surface mine operations is at significant risk today,” Betsy Bennett said.
Coal supporters say the EPA's regulations are attacking the people, not protecting them.
“Well you have changed the rules and my people have lost their hope for opportunity to work in the area that they come from and I ask you to realize the consequences of your actions,” Senator Robert Stivers said.
Some believe we can have coal mines and a clean environment with the proper rules aligned with the Clean Water Act.
“Coal mining is complicated in Kentucky because of the tensions with job opportunities, making a profit, maintaining a quality environment.
how to work out a balance fair to all resuscitates working together,” Ruth Bamberger said.
It is a decision the EPA will be making in the future after taking all these comments into consideration.
This is not the end of the EPA's efforts to hear what you think. There will be another on Thursday in Pikeville.
They are also accepting written comments about the matter until June 21.