The coal mining industry is bemoaning a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement that it will seek an enhanced environmental review of 79 surface mining permit applications. Most of the projects are in Kentucky. National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich says the EPA is asking companies to meet standards they weren’t aware of.
“It’s as if we were given one set of rules a couple of years ago, one set of goal posts, that were put on one end of the field, so you can know at least where to score a touchdown. And now those goal posts are being shifted and moved again,” Popovich said.
But the EPA announced it was not changing the rules but requiring stricter compliance with existing Clean Water Act guidelines. It found that most of the permit applications showed the potential to violate state water quality standards or significantly degrade aquatic ecosystems. Governor Steve Beshear has asked the agency to expedite its review.