EPA Registers Objections to 19 Kentucky Coal Mine Permits

by Erica Peterson on September 30, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency has objected to 19 coal mining permits in Kentucky.

In his letter to President Barack Obama earlier this week, Governor Steve Beshear specifically mentioned 55 Kentucky permits that were pending approval from the EPA. The EPA has responded to 54 of those permits, and has registered objections to 19 of them.

The draft permits are seeking the approval to discharge waste from surface coal mines under the federal Clean Water Act. The letter from the regional EPA office said there were holes in the permit applications—like a lack of basic information about the characteristics and effects of the proposed pollution. The agency also called into question the accuracy of the information on the permits. The state has to respond to the agency’s concerns, and can request individual public hearings for each permit. But if the state can’t resolve the issues, the EPA has the final authority to grant or reject the permit.

The EPA also issued comments on 35 other proposed permits. For those permits, the state has to consider and respond to the EPA’s suggestions, but the state has the authority to make the final permitting decision.

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