Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
March 22, 2002
An Open Letter To The Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committee
I am writing to ask your support for keeping language in the Senate Budget Memorandum authorizing the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet to block issuance of new mining permits to applicants who are owned or controlled by outlaw coal companies.
In 1998, the leadership of the House and Senate agreed to include language in the Executive Branch Budget Memorandum authorizing the Natural Resources Cabinet to continue to block new mining permits where a mining applicant is owned or controlled by an interest that owns or controls an outlaw mining operation. "Permit blocking" is a very effective enforcement tool under state and federal law that assures past violations are abated before new permits are issued. A federal court decision interpreting federal law limited the permit blocking to "downstream" links, leaving a regulatory gap that would allow any outlaw coal interest to avoid permit blocking simply by creating a new corporate entity to apply for a new permit.
The 1998 and 2000 state budget language reaffirmed that, as a matter of state law, notwithstanding the federal court decision striking the "upstream" portion of the ownership and control rules, Kentucky's regulatory authority would continue to permit-block up- and down-stream of the applicant. Since 1998, the budget language has been modified at the request of the coal industry to include in the 2000 budget a new due process hearing, and in the 2002 House Budget Memorandum, to limit reporting of ownership and control interests for publicly-held corporations.
Removal of the budget language will invite open abuse of state mining laws, and will allow individuals now barred from new permits because of unabated violations to reenter the marketplace. No one benefits when companies that have stripped and left coalfield communities and the public saddled with abandoned, unreclaimed mines, are allowed through corporate subterfuge, back into the business. The retention of the House budget language assures that the legitimate coal industry does not have to compete with those who would flout the law and their reclamation responsibility, and that no one can abuse the corporate form of business association to get new permits until they clean up their current messes.
I urge you to reject efforts to remove the language, and instead to reaffirm Kentucky's policy that those who are linked through ownership and control to unabated violations and who own or control permit applicants cannot get new permits until they correct their past transgressions.