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Groups Ask Feds to Yank KY Division of Water Powers

March 18, 2010

LONDON, Ky. - Four groups are appealing to the Environmental Protection Agency, asking that Kentucky's powers to oversee water discharge permitting be rescinded. Doug Doerrfeld represents one of them, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. He accuses the state of breaking a promise it made when it took on those duties three decades ago: to address existing water pollution and prevent more from occurring.

"It has become perfectly clear, by all the polluted streams across the commonwealth, that that promise to the people of Kentucky has not been kept."

Doerrfeld says the EPA has a couple different options to address the situation.

"They could send personnel to Kentucky to help administer the program or they could simply take over and operate the program in its entirety."

Doerrfeld says better enforcement of pollution discharges is likely to mean less surface mining and a return to more mining the old-fashioned way.

"If there's much less surface mining going on in Kentucky, it could actually increase jobs in underground coal mining."

Doerrfeld says nearly 2,500 streams in the state don't meet water quality standards. He points to coal mining as either the identified or "suspected" culprit in many cases.

The Division of Water maintains that it follows and regulates discharge standards as set forth in the federal Clean Water Act, but Doerrfeld says DOW permits often fail to consider known pollutants associated with mining, such as selenium and aluminum.

More information is available by calling Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, (606) 878-2161.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY