EPA's water rules 'overstepped' bounds and halted new mine permits, state official says

08/19/2011 05:39 PM

Kentucky has only processed two new permits to mine coal in Kentucky since new federal guidelines went into place in April 2010, said state Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters.

Peters said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules have all but halted new coal mining permits for surface mining in Kentucky, including the practice of mountaintop removal. In Kentucky, coal companies applied for more then 60 new coal mining permits, but only two have been approved. And those two companies chose not to go forward because the rules on

“It’s our opinion, and it’s really the opinion of many states, that EPA has probably overstepped their bounds,” Peters said. (see the 5:15 mark of the clip)

Peters said as a result, it could constrict the state’s coal supply and lead to higher electricity costs to consumers.

“It’s going to reduce the amount of coal we can mine. And it’s going to have an impact on the price of electricity,” Peters said. “And when it has an impact on the price of electricity, it has an impact on those manufacturing industries that employ about 215,000 people in Kentucky.” (see the 7:20 mark of the clip)

Several states that are part Environmental Commissioners of the States (ECOS) recently passed a resolution that said the EPA over-reached by issuing new guidance for surface mining without going through a hearing process to allow input on the changes.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has sued the EPA, claiming he EPA had not used the proper process to issue the guidance that has severely limited mountaintop removal.

Kentucky employs about 18,000 coal workers in Kentucky.

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