Funding has been secured for 34 new mine safety and permit inspectors in Kentucky.
Governor Steve Beshear Tuesday announced plans to use funds from the multi-county coal fund to hire 15 mine inspectors and rescuers. Beshear will also combine increased coal mining permit fees with matching federal funds to hire 19 new permit review employees.
“We’ve had a serious understaffing problem in both of those areas,” says Beshear. “And obviously with this economy it’s very difficult to find money to do a lot of things.”
Beshear says the new hires will expedite the mine inspection and approval process in Kentucky, but operators will still face difficulties getting certain projects approved on the federal level.
“Certainly the EPA and the Corps of Engineers so far have decided to start anew when it comes to the review of mine permits,” he says. “They have held up 49 permits in Kentucky and are going to do another review of those permits.”
The Obama administration has blocked several mountaintop removal projects until further review is conducted.