EPA Hearing Puts Coal In The Spolight

Jun 5, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - An EPA hearing in Frankfort on the fate of 36 coal mine permits is drawing the attention of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and environmental activists. 

The EPA rejected the coal mining permits, citing potential violations of the Clean Water Act. The move has drawn the ire of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Tuesday that the rejection will cost Kentuckians jobs and further undermine a key industry in the state.

"Since being sworn in, President Obama’s EPA has set out to circumvent the will of Congress and the American people by turning the already-cumbersome mine permitting process into a back-door means of shutting down coal mines," McConnell said.

But supporters of the decision say the EPA is doing its job by protecting Kentucky against health risks. Elizabeth Crowe is executive director of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. She says coal jobs are already declining, natural gas is on the rise, and the state would do well to begin transitioning to renewable energy.

"The longer the coal industry denies these shifts and the longer it holds out state hostage to coal jobs, we're preventing being able to look at other sources of income, other economic development," Crowe says.

The EPA hearing in Frankfort begins at 7 tonight, the rally at 6.