By ROGER ALFORD The Associated Press
One of Kentucky’s top mining regulators was fired Tuesday, three weeks after Gov. Steve Beshear won re-election to a second term in a race in which coal was a central issue.
Natural Resources Commissioner Carl Campbell was informed of his termination in a brief letter that said the action was being taken “without cause.”
Campbell had previously served 25 years in the former Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. He didn’t immediately return calls made to his Frankfort home.
The move caught some leaders in the mining industry off guard. Kentucky Mining Association President Bill Bissett said he was unaware of any issues the industry had with Campbell. “ Commissioner Campbell’s relationship with Kentucky’s coal industry was a professional one,” Bissett said. “ There were issues where the commissioner agreed with the industry’s position and issues where he disagreed. What we appreciated was his frank demeanor in communicating his position as well as maintaining that ongoing line of communication.”
Mining issues had played prominently in Beshear’s reelection campaign. Both he and Republican opponent David Williams had pledged to do all they could as governor to bolster the coal industry, which employs some 18,000 miners in Kentucky.
Campbell, responsible for the state’s role in permitting new mines, wasn’t singled out for criticism during the campaign.
As head of the Department for Natural Resources since 2008, Campbell had oversight of mine safety and licensing, mine permits, abandoned mine lands, reclamation and enforcement, forestry, and oil and natural gas drilling.
The termination letter said “please be advised that effective immediately, your services as commissioner with the Department for Natural Resources are no longer needed.”
Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson confirmed Campbell’s dismissal, saying the decision was made at the cabinet level by Environmental Secretary Len Peters, not by Beshear.
“Secretary Peters informed the governor of his decision to terminate Mr. Campbell,” Richardson said.