From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh
In budget hearings in Frankfort, some Kentucky lawmakers are complaining about delays in the issuance of coal mining permits.
Almost 1,100 coal mining permits were issued last year, but Hazard Senator Brandon Smith says he’s being barraged with complaints about permitting process delays. Energy and Environmental Secretary Len Peters says part of the problem is understaffing, but he’s resisting calls to hire private contractors.
“It is our desire that we would do it through interim employees working in our offices, as opposed to contracting out. That way we don’t get into the conflict of interests,” Peters said.
Peters adds the cabinet is also moving employees around to try to meet permitting and inspection needs, and is considering permit fee increases to raise capital for new hires. The entire cabinet has 217 unfilled positions, and is operating with 136 fewer employees than it had two years ago.