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Citizens Groups: Settlement with Coal Company Sends Message About Pollution

Conservation groups in Kentucky say a settlement with a coal company over water pollution sends a strong message about the need for enforcement. Credit Alex DeShay/Sierra Club
Conservation groups in Kentucky say a settlement with a coal company over water pollution sends a strong message about the need for enforcement. Credit Alex DeShay/Sierra Club
December 9, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A coalition of citizens' groups that exposed thousands of Clean Water Act violations at one coal company's surface mining operations in eastern Kentucky has reached a settlement with the state's regulatory agency and the company.

In the settlement with five conservation groups and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Frasure Creek Mining admitted to exceeding pollution permit limits and falsifying monitoring reports. It also agreed to pay an immediate half-million-dollar fine.

"This has been a bad actor of mining in Kentucky," said Alice Howell, the Sierra Club's mining committee co-chair in Kentucky. "And the message is to follow the regulations. Don't cheat on your reporting."

The violations occurred at Frasure Creek mountaintop removal mines in Floyd, Magoffin, Perry and Pike counties. The company is currently not mining in the state and, under the agreement, if it wants to resume mining it would have to pay $2.75 million before a permit would be processed.

The pollution settlement was signed late Monday, just hours before the administration of new Gov. Matt Bevin took office.

According to Howell, citizens' groups first brought pollution concerns about the Frasure Creek mines to the state in 2010, and eventually intervened when they decided state enforcement was too lenient. She said the message remains the same - the state is accountable for enforcing regulations.

"We will continue to watch how the cabinet enforces the regulations," she said, "but it shouldn't be citizen responsibility for the enforcement of those regulations."

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY