Reaction to federal judge's ruling against the EPA

By Katie Roach | 

A federal judge says the Environmental Protection Agency over stepped it's boundaries.

The judge said the EPA infringed on the authority given to state regulators by federal clean water and surface mining acts.

Many here in Eastern Kentucky are hoping this ruling will allow more mining permits to be granted while others say even more regulation is needed.

The EPA has been tightening regulations through the past year on how surface mining operations dispose of their waste.

Dozens of mining permits were held up in the Appalachian region due to these regulations, but now a federal judge has ruled that the EPA has over stepped their legal bounds.

"We've been fighting the EPA tooth and nail for years now, and finally the courts are saying you are right. The EPA has out stepped it's authority, and they should issue these permits," said Congressman Hal Rogers.

The ruling says the EPA infringed on the authority given to state regulators.

Rick Handshoe with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth says he does not agree with the ruling, and that there is not enough regulation for surface mining operations.

"This is a health issue, and it's killing the future of the area. They can mine, but they have to do it properly," said Handshoe.

He says his stream is contaminated due to surface mine waste, and he wonders if he should stay in the community he calls home.

"What we are left with when they mine and move out, we are still left with poison water," said Handshoe.

While Congressman Rogers agrees that there needs to be reasonable efforts to protect the water, he says the judge clearly states the EPA went too far, and that they need to grant these permits.

Rogers hopes this ruling will help put more miners back to work.

The EPA did not return our phone calls for comment. They can appeal, but there is no word yet if they will do so.

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