EPA hurting Kentucky coal industry by overstepping bounds, Gooch says

08/25/2011 03:38 PM

Kentucky coal is in the crosshairs of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Jim Gooch, the Chair of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

Gooch, a Democrat from Providence in western Kentucky, said the goal of new standards for coal permits and EPA mine regulations are being used to dry up coal mining in Kentucky — something that average citizens might not understand, he added.

“They’ve come in and they’ve actually singled out Appalachia and the coal industry and have some new conductivity standards that only apply to them (the coal industry),” Gooch said. “We say that it’s not fair to single out one section of the country and one industry and apply laws different to them than other parts of the country.” (see the 1:10 mark of the clip)

But Gooch also contended on Pure Politics Wednesday that mining coal is probably “fourth or fifth on the list” of things that cause sediments to run into streams, citing road construction, ditch failure and rain water runoff as bigger contributors to stream pollutants.

An Aug. 18 article by Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service chronicles the story of a Pike County family whose well water is on fire. The state determined that the water was affected by a mining company. While other families around the same area have had problems with their water, state regulators’ tests are inconclusive as to whether their well water is contaminated by coal mining.

“It’s very unfortunate. Sometimes there are things like that that happen,” Gooch said. (see the 3:45 mark of the clip) “It’s really sad that in this age in Kentucky that people are having to still depend on water wells to get their water. We have tried for many years to bring potable water to the citizens of Kentucky.” (see the 5:40 mark of the clip)

Gooch said if mining is responsible for destroying water wells that provide water, or are endangering the health of citizens, coal companies should mitigate those problems. But he added that mining isn’t the only thing that can affect well water.


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