Coal and Water News

USGS halts research on mountaintop removal’s public-health effects

July 26, 2014
Charleston Gazette

Last year, the Obama administration quietly put the brakes on any new field work by the U.S. Geological Survey to gather data on the potential public-health threats posed by mountaintop removal.

Kentuckians want better protection than what's in the general permit

June 19, 2014 at 02:43pm

Members of KFTC and ally groups asked state officials to care about the quality of the water where they live, and recognize its importance for social and economic activity, during a public hearing Wednesday night focused on pollution from coal mining operations.

Eastern Ky. can't soar with ruined water

June 18, 2014
Lexington Herald-Leader

The Beshear administration seems bound and determined to let one of the governor's biggest political contributors ruin one of Kentucky's most beautiful and historic places — even if it puts coalfield drinking water supplies and the SOAR initiative at risk.

Modest clean air goals and better health bring loud howls

June 13, 2014 at 07:23am

2010_06_13 Cane Run Rd. coal plant and coal ash landfill--bethb (2)

Kentuckians would realize tremendous health benefits from significant cuts in power plant pollution. Proposed EPA air pollution limits would require Kentucky to cut carbon pollution only by 18.3% by the year 2030 – a very modest and achievable goal. Yet many of our politicians and candidates are howling against the EPA proposal and ignoring the billions of dollars in health benefits.

Here's a KFTC statement in response to the EPA announcement.

General permit for coal falls short, June 18 hearing set

June 3, 2014 at 12:27pm

A public hearing will take place on June 18 to receive comments on proposed drafts of the state’s General Permit for Coal Mining.

The general permit sets limits on what pollutants can be discharged from coal mining operations into the state’s waterways. The law requires that it be updated and renewed every five years. The current general permit expires on July 31.

The War On Coal Miners: How Companies Hide The Threat Of Black Lung From Watchdogs And Workers

May 30, 2014
Huffington Post

Dust levels in coal mines are routinely under reported, and sometimes fraudently reported, putting miners unnecessarily at risk.

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.

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