Coal and Water News

Restructuring cuts state's mine safety staff

May 30, 2014
Lexington Herald-Leader

Staffing in the state's mine-safety office will be slashed 37 percent to deal with a steep budget cut approved by the legislature this year, according to an order Gov. Steve Beshear filed Friday to restructure the agency.

Pike heirs file suit claiming state should not have granted permit for mining on their land

May 16, 2014
Lexington Herald-Leader

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Pike County landowners challenges the practice of state environmental officials to grant strip mining permits without the consent of a majority of the owners of the property.

KFTC members want stronger 402 permit

May 16, 2014 at 12:33pm

On July 31 of this year, the current General 402 Permit for Coal Mining expires.

Under the Kentucky Pollution Discharge Elimination System (KPDES), all water that leaves a mine site has to go through a pipe, which needs to be permitted so that the water can be monitored to know if it exceeds pollution standards.

Look for more information from KFTC once the first draft of the next General KPDES Permit for Coal Mining has been released. There will be an opportunity for the public to submit comments, and there likely will be a public hearing on the draft permit. Approval from the federal EPA also is required.

Coal companies have the option of either applying for an individual KPDES permit or applying to have their water discharge covered by the KPDES general permit for coal mining.

The general KPDES permit is a five-year permit developed by the Kentucky Division of Water (DoW) in order to create a streamlined process for various types of activities that discharge pollution into the streams and lakes of Kentucky. DoW must update and renew that permit every five years.

There can be a general KPDES permit for municipal sewage treatment plants, or for high schools, and there is a general permit for active coal mines and for inactive coal mines.

The general permit requires less scrutiny for potential damage to waterways and uses a “one size fits all” approach.

Aside from the difference in fees ($1,300 for a general permit and $3,300 for an individual permit), the major difference between the two is that each individual 402 KPDES permit is subject to review by the federal EPA.

Over the last few years, EPA has found reason to request additional testing and pollution discharge restrictions on about 36 individual permits, while the Kentucky Division of Water has allowed thousands of new mines and amended mine permits to be covered by the general coal mine permit.

In meetings with the Kentucky Division of Water, KFTC members have expressed their belief that Kentucky should stop using the general KPDES permit and instead require all coal companies to apply for individual permits.

They pointed out that each coal mine and each stream is different and the pollution limits should be tailored for the specific pollution coming off of each mine site.

In addition, if previous mining has already polluted a stream, then new mines should not be allowed to discharge additional pollution into the stream.

Dear Appalachia

Photo of author Anne Shelby
May 15, 2014 at 01:35pm

With the author's permission, we are pleased to share with you this powerful poem by Clay County author Anne Shelby. She expresses beautifully the deep and conflicting emotions many Kentuckians feel about our home communities. The poem was first written for a National Public Radio program, State of The Reunion. A version of it was published in the journal Appalachian Heritage. Thank you, Anne!

Silas House’s Same Sun Here is a book about and for KFTC members

May 9, 2014 at 10:01am

KFTC member and Kentucky author Silas House published a young adult novel in 2012 called Same Sun Here, a collaboration with New York City author Neela Vaswani. The book is a series of letters between River Dean Justice, who lives in eastern Kentucky, and a girl named Meena, who lives in New York City. House talked with KFTC recently about the book.

Breathless and Burdened

February 24, 2014
The Center for Public Integrity

This year-long investigation examines how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung, even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help alleviate their suffering.

What Kentucky's New Law on Carbon Dioxide Emissions Actually Means

April 14, 2014
WFPL-FM

Ignoring words of caution from his own administration, Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill directing the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet to create a Kentucky-specific plan for regulating carbon dioxide emissions into law.

Legislature wrong to roll back mine-safety protections without study or public notice

April 9, 2014
Lexington Herald-Leader

Lawmakers are trying to do away with an important requirement to protect coal miners — without the usual process of holding public hearings and engaging in public discussion. Instead, the Senate quietly proposed a state budget that would significantly reduce funding for the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.

From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage

April 1, 2014 at 02:32pm

“From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage” was scheduled to be the first event of the Jefferson County Chapter’s Louisville Loves Mountains Week, a series of events leading up to the I Love Mountains Day march and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. Inclement weather led to the postponement of the event, but thankfully all of the performers and speakers were available to come out on March 17.  

“From Louisville to Appalachia” was a celebration of Kentucky’s African American heritage in Appalachia. Kentucky writers, musicians, and speakers were invited to share their work and personal stories in celebration of the unique natural beauty, ecological importance, and cultural heritage of Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains and mountain communities.


Cassia Herron, board president of Community Farm Alliance and Richmond, Kentucky native, emceed the event and also shared her family’s story of being tied to the land. Tarsha Semakula’s reading of her poem “I am Louisville” mesmerized the audience. Tarsha is a poet, writer, entrepreneur, and founder and executive director of The Buttafly Center, a community agency that is dedicated to the empowerment of women via education and training, communal resources, and personal development.

Louisville Loves Mountains Week

February 28, 2014 at 04:21pm

In early February, the Jefferson County Chapter held Louisville Loves Mountains week, a series of events leading up to the I Love Mountains Day march and rally on February 12.  Three events were scheduled to foster a better understanding of the African American culture i

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