The Kentucky Coal Association filed their suit on October 18, contesting recent guidance and oversight of coal mining permits issued by the EPA earlier this year. According to KCA President Bill Bissett, the EPA’s lone goal with the new guidance is, simply, to end coal mining.
"We regrettably have no choice but to file suit against Administrator Lisa Jackson and the EPA to stop their illegal agenda to end coal mining in Kentucky," Bissett said in a KCA release on Monday. "This EPA continues to act without any consideration for the law, so it is our hope that the federal court system will find that the EPA’s actions are being made based on political ideology alone, with no connection to actually protecting the environment. We are confident that we will prevail in this action and that the court will agree that Kentuckians know best how their home e should be managed. The EPA is a federal agency and we need them to obey the law."
The KCA hopes to halt the EPA from further vetoing water discharge permits, such as several the agency vetoed last month after they were approved by a state regulatory agency.
Governor Beshear cited the potential for job loss in a statement on Monday, saying the EPA’s actions on coal mining regulation are a threat to Kentucky’s economy and the thousands of jobs impacted by coal mining.
“Kentucky can and does mine coal while at the same time protecting Kentucky’s environment,” said Gov. Beshear. “However, the arbitrary and unreasonable decisions being made by the EPA threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners who depend on mining for their livelihood.”
The lawsuit is challenging what is referred to as the EPA’s arbitrary enforcement standards, in which the agency is being accused of applying certain benchmarks to some water discharge permits, while apparently applying different benchmarks to others.
“Kentucky has tried time and time again to work with the EPA to strike a reasonable balance on mining and environmental issues. However, the EPA’s recent arbitrary and unreasonable actions could well have a devastating impact to Kentucky’s economy,” said Gov. Beshear. “As Governor, I am going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening.”
But according to an EPA spokesperson, the agency’s guidance allows for a balance between “a healthy environment and a healthy economy” by following scientific findings in regard to water quality in Appalchia. The agency released to the Herald on Tuesday the following response to Monday’s lawsuit:
“Despite many efforts by EPA, state officials have not engaged in a meaningful discussion of sustainable mining practices that will create jobs while protecting the waters that Appalachian communities depend on for drinking, swimming and fishing. Earlier this year, at the request of the state, EPA issued clear guidance that ensures permits are reviewed using the best science available to protect residents from the significant and irreversible damage this practice can have on communities and their water sources. That science was just recently reaffirmed in a draft report by an independent panel of scientists.
“EPA continues to be willing to work with industry to reach common sense agreements allowing them to mine coal while avoiding permanent environmental impacts and protecting water quality. The EPA’s number one priority is to protect the health of all Americans and the guidance allows the people of Kentucky and other states to have both a healthy environment and a healthy economy.”