Most Ky. lawmakers speak out at hearing against EPA over permits

06/06/2012 07:18 AM

More than a dozen Kentucky lawmakers from both parties were among those who criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rejection of 36 mine permits at a public hearing in Frankfort Tuesday night, leaving little doubt about the prevailing sentiment in the General Assembly.

Among lawmakers, only Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, spoke at the hearing in favor of the EPA’s actions to block the new mine permits over concerns with their effect on water quality.

Several Republicans, including state Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington and Jim Milliman the state director for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul — said the federal agency was unfairly applying strict standards to mine permits in Kentucky but not in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. And they blamed President Barack Obama.

“It’s been about a president that decided to punish a state that didn’t vote for him in 2010 and it’s about a state that ain’t going to vote for him this year,” Lee said to loud cheers from many where pro-coal shirts in the audience. Watch his statement here:

Democrats who spoke out against the agency’s decisions, such as Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson, were no less enthusiastic about their concerns that the rejection of the permits could hurt Kentucky, the coal industry and the families of those who rely on the industry. But Ridley and the other Democrats didn’t guess at the EPA’s motives. Watch Ridley’s remarks:

State Rep. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard, said the water standard levels the EPA set are so unreasonably high that water from the Kentucky River in Frankfort — a hundred miles away from any mining — wouldn’t pass its test. Here are the remarks by Steele, who was flanked by Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville and Rep. Teddy Edmonds of Beattyville:

Jenkins, the Shively Democrat, said her district in Jefferson County doesn’t produce coal but is the site of two coal ash landfills. And she said the EPA needs to remain vigorous to protect Kentucky’s water. Watch Jenkins’ remarks:

Earlier in the evening, Jenkins and state Sen. Kathy Stein joined environmentalists and representatives from the Sierra Club at a press conference. Stein called her colleagues who spoke against the regulatory agency “misguided.”

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