Whitesburg KY

Groups want steeper fines for 2 coal firms


Environmental groups are calling for harsher penalties on two coal companies that have agreed to pay $660,000 in fines to settle numerous violations of the Clean Water Act.

The groups said Tuesday that an agreement between Kentucky and the two companies — International Coal Group and Frasure Creek Mining — doesn’t address problems the activists say they uncovered during a search for water quality data.

“We believe the deal struck between the state and these coal companies is woefully, woefully inadequate,” said Donna Lisenby, a member of Appalachian Voices of Boone, N.C.

The groups allege the companies falsified water quality reports that were submitted to the state over a two-year period. They also allege lax enforcement by state officials in charge of monitoring the reports.

ICG has denied submitting falsified reports. No one answered the phone Tuesday at a number for Frasure Creek Mining. Both companies have corporate addresses in Scott Depot, W.Va.

IGC has agreed to pay $350,000 in penalties and Frasure Creek has agreed to pay $310,000.

Lisenby said Kentucky officials could have imposed a maximum of $103 million in fines for more than 2,700 violations the state found.

“The settlement doesn’t go far enough in enforcement, it gives way too much away to these companies,” Lisenby said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

The groups asked a judge in Frankfort on Tuesday for permission to intervene in the state’s case against the companies.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said he would consider the groups’ motion to intervene and ordered the consent agreement between the state and the two coal operators to be posted for public comment for 30 days. He gave the environmental groups a deadline of Dec. 22 to submit law briefs in support of their motion to intervene.

The other environmental groups asking to intervene were Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Waterkeeper Alliance of New York and Kentucky Riverkeeper.

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