Rejected by the committee were moderate reforms in several areas of significance to landowners whose communities become the targets of new limestone and sand/gravel mines. The reforms rejected by the committee included:
- A requirement to replace water supplies damaged by mining; - A requirement for public notice if an existing permit is amended to include new acreage; - A requirement that all mining operations have a reclamation bond; - A requirement to identify the route and methods of moving the mined material to market, including roads and truck weights; - A requirement that the mining permit boundary be 300 feet, rather than the actual mining being 100 feet, from occupied homes.
While the outcome of this regulation package was disappointing, the Committee heard an earful from residents in Gallatin and Boone County about the human and public costs of these quarries. The legislative discussion, which began with a narrow focus on the costs of the regulation to the mining industry, ended with a focus on the need to address the costs to local residents of traffic safety and road damage caused by non-coal mining operations.
State Rep. Paul Marcotte, who no longer represents Gallatin County after redistricting, was passionate and persuasive in support of neighbors of these mines, arguing that it was "insane" not to address the traffic safety and road damage issues before issuing noncoal mine permits. Former Gallatin County Magistrate Elsie Ewbank also spoke, providing graphic evidence of the damage inflicted in the local road in the Steele's Bottom community of Gallatin County by trucks hauling from Nugent's Sand's mining operation.
The meeting created momentum towards the 2004 legislature, where Rep. Marcotte has promised to introduce legislation to require consideration of road safety and damage prior to issuance of mine permits. KRC will be working with residents across the state to document the damage and costs inflicted by inadequate regulation of non-coal mines, and encourages your participation in identifying operations that are causing off-site impacts in your community on air. land and water resources.
Special thanks to Elsie Ewbank and Bill Legrand and to the Boone County residents who traveled to the meeting and spoke, to Rep. Paul Marcotte for his compassion and his eloquence, and to Representative Jimmie Lee, for while he voted against the regulations, he did so acknowledging that the legislature would be remiss if it did not bring relief to these communities during the 2004 session. Thanks as well to Commissioner Carl Campbell, Jim Villines and Non-coal Program Manager Mark Thompson for attempting to bring needed reforms to these regulations, and for holding the line on the transportation plan requirement.
And thanks to each of you who called, faxed, or wrote your legislator. The Committee members noted that they had heard from both sides of the issue, and it was not an easy vote for several of them. Thanks for your efforts to create accountability.