EPA permit hearing draws coal supporters, foes - WDRB 41 Louisville News

EPA permit hearing draws coal supporters, foes

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Coal interests wore special t-shirts at EPA hearing in Frankfort Tuesday evening. WDRB News photo. Coal interests wore special t-shirts at EPA hearing in Frankfort Tuesday evening. WDRB News photo.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A crowd of nearly 1,000 coal miners, environmentalists and policy makers packed an EPA hearing in Frankfort Tuesday night.

The coal miners and their supporters were there to urge the EPA to grant them permits, 36 of which remain in limbo. They claim by granting them permits, they can mine and create jobs.

But environmentalists counter that the EPA is protecting waterways and the lives of Kentuckians with its regulation.

"We have to have guidelines and laws, but some of these (regulations) are unattainable. We need a happy medium," said Jack Whittaker, board chairman of Whittaker Bank and former coal miner.

Kentucky lawmakers and coal mining supporters argued the regulations are keeping miners and their families from working, further damaging a state with an already sluggish economy.

Inside the Capital Plaza Hotel, seventy environmental activists raised concerns about coal pollution and its after effects.

"I'm not mad at coal because I got the black lung. But I want to see coal keep to the law and shut down surface mining and only mine underground," said Thurman Hurt, former coal miner.

Hurt's message was likely drowned out by the remarks made by lawmakers and coal miners who gave the EPA an earful inside the Frankfort Convention Center.

Another EPA hearing is scheduled later this week in Pikeville.

Copyright 2012 WDRB News.  All rights reserved.

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