In late September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified Gov. Steve Beshear of its objections to 19 mountaintop mining permits in Kentucky. In contrast, the EPA did not object to 36 other permits for underground mines and coal preparation plants across Kentucky. James Giattina, Director of the EPA’s Water Protection Division, issued the agency’s objections to the 19 permits stating, “We have significant concerns that these permits will allow discharges that may cause significant water quality impacts.”
The EPA’s action came only days after Beshear urged President Obama to ease up on the state’s coal industry during the President’s stop at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport to discuss job creation and the Brent-Spence Bridge. During the meeting, the governor pressed Obama to change federal policies that cost jobs in Kentucky’s mining industry.
Beshear previously sent a letter to Obama expressing his frustration over EPA delaying 75 mining permits in eastern Kentucky. EPA’s actions are costing the region thousands of direct and indirect jobs. The letter emphasized the need for EPA to institute fair and reasonable policies in the coal permitting process. The governor further noted that the actions of the EPA are “obstructing a substantial opportunity to create and maintain high-paying jobs, and have the potential to devastate job creation and affordable energy across the nation.”