Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has directed the US Energy and Environment Cabinet to support the Kentucky Coal Association (KCA) in a law suit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The KCA is challenging the EPA's arbitrary rules and guidance on coal mining permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The law suit has been filed against the EPA's interim guidance issued earlier this year regarding Kentucky’s issuance of CWA 402 Permits for coal mining operations, commonly referred to as the Kentucky Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting programme.
The EPA interim guidance sets benchmarks for mining operations in Appalachia to measure the conductivity of water in streams and waterways.
In March, the EPA allowed the issuance of the revised draft permits by the Kentucky Division of Water but subsequently refused to apply the same standards to 11 similarly proposed permits.
Beshear said in a statement that the EPA is not allowing legal challenges to specific permit objections and is under no timeframe to take any final action in response to the objections.
He added that Kentucky can and does mine coal without affecting the state's environment.
''However, the arbitrary and unreasonable decisions being made by the EPA threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners who depend on mining for their livelihood,'' Beshear said.