Kentucky withdraws haul road exemption from OSM Posted: May 12, 2004
On April 20, the federal Office of Surface Mining announced that Kentucky has withdrawn a proposed change to the state surface mining regulatory program that would have exempted any public roads used for coal haulage from mining regulation. Federal mining laws require that all roads used for coal haulage and access be considered for regulation as needed to protect the public and environment. The Council has represented residents in the communities of Ary, Cumberland and partridge in successful litigation seeking to extend the protections of the surface mining laws to several public roads that are used and damaged by coal haulage. The previous state administration, under pressure from the coal industry, allowed the industry to write a proposed regulatory amendment revising the definition of "affected area" in order to categorically eliminate the possibility of regulating all existing state, local or other public roads where used for coal haulage and access. The proposed state redefinition of "affected area" was criticized by KRC as being irresponsible, in direct violation of federal and state law, and in callous disregard of the legitimate interests of coalfield residents in the quiet use and enjoyment of their homes and the safety and health of their communities. (KRC's previous comments are available on the website). The state regulatory changes are still pending before the legislative review committees and have been deferred by the agency. The withdrawal of the rules from OSM's consideration by the state signals that the proposed revisions are under reconsideration and may be shelved. KRC has promised a challenge to the final rules if the unlawful exemption is adopted as proposed. Thanks to those of you who wrote to OSM in December, 2003 opposing the proposed changes, and our appreciation to the Environmental Quality Commission for its opposition to the proposed regulatory change.