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MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE (in parenthesis are the counties they represent)
Jim Gooch Jr. (Hopkins, Daviess, Webster, McLean)
Rocky Adkins (Rowan, Lawrence, Boyd, Elliott)
Tim Couch (Harlan, Leslie, Clay)
Rick Rand (Carroll, Trimble, Oldham, Henry)
Scott Brinkman (Jefferson)
Brandon Smith (Perry, Harlan)
Hubert Collins (Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Pike)
Howard Cornett (Letcher, Harlan, Pike)
Keith Hall (Pike)
Don Pasley (Clark)
Marie Rader (Jackson, Laurel, Owsley)
Jim Stewart (Laurel, Knox)
Robin Webb (Carter, Lewis)
Brent Yonts (Hopkins, Christian, Muhlenberg)
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
February 17, 2003
To: Representative Brent Yonts
All Members, House Natural Resources Committee
From: Tom FitzGerald, KRC Director
Re: HJR 140
I am writing to express KRC's opposition to HJR 140. The joint resolution would mandate that the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet to revoke the recently-revised "General Permit" for water pollutant discharges from surface coal mining operations, and to reinstate the former permit. Additionally, any time that the Cabinet sought to impose an additional testing or monitoring condition on coal operations it would be required to proceed by regulation rather than through the normal permitting process.
This bill is industry's effort to avoid the imposition of a requirement that coal mine operations test their discharges for oil and grease. It takes very little oil or grease to foul drinking water, to contaminate streams and to destroy fisheries. And coal mining operations use, store and dispose of a lot of oil and grease as fuels and lubricants.
Under the former 1997 general coal mining permit, oil and grease limits and monitoring were required but there was opportunity for a waiver of that condition if the permittee implemented a required Best Management Practices plan. The cabinet has determined based on its enforcement actions that there was substantial noncompliance among those operations inspected, since the permittee often did not have such a plan developed or implemented, yet was not conducting the required monitoring.
The Cabinet has the ability under the state program delegated under the Clean Water Act, to impose monitoring conditions and limits on any pollutant for which there is a reasonable potential, and that threshold is met here. During the 2002 comment periods on the draft permit (there were two separate comment periods in May and September, 2002), which was widely advertised (in eight newspapers), and personal copies of which were sent to the coal association) no industry comments were received.
If any entity believes that there is no sound basis for a monitoring condition, administrative and judicial review is available. The intervention of the General Assembly in revoking permits issued under the water discharge program to a particular industry, and directing that another permit be reinstated, is a troublesome precedent, and is particularly unjustified in a case such as this where there is a high likelihood that a commonly-used product managed and disposed of on site may cause off-site water pollution problems unless properly managed, and evidence suggests that the industry has failed to demonstrate compliance with the previous management requirement.
Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.