Environmental activists take coal protest to the governor's office -- and stay there

02/11/2011 08:01 PM

(WITH VIDEO) FRANKFORT — A group of Kentuckians staged a sit-in Friday at Gov. Steve Beshear’s office to drive home their unhappiness with the governor’s positions on the coal industry.

The environmentalists met with Beshear to air their concerns but organizers said later they weren’t happy with his response. As a result, they decided to stay the weekend in Beshear’s office on the first floor of the Capitol.

Teri Blanton, an activist from Berea, served as spokeswoman for the group that also included author Wendell Berry.

Blanton said the group took issue with Beshear joining a lawsuit with the Kentucky Coal Association against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has proposed a series of regulations aimed at the industry.

In his State of the Commonwealth Address earlier this month, Beshear underscored his opposition to the proposed regulations of environmental standards for water runoff from mining by saying “Get off our backs.” The line prompted thunderous applause from most lawmakers in attendance.

Among the concerns of the environmentalists has been blasting used in mountain top removal mining, which they say are blowing some houses off of their foundations. They also cited the frequency of flash floods, which they say are the result of stripping the tops of mountains and dumping of coal waste, or slurry, into the valleys.

The sit-in was in advance of a rally to be held Monday on the steps of the Capitol.

- Don Weber


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