Front Porch Blog

Déjà vu in Kentucky clean water cases

frasure_creek

Appalachian Voices and our partners have filed a motion to intervene in a case between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining to ensure clean water laws are being enforced in Kentucky.

Late last year we filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue against Frasure Creek after we uncovered thousands of false water monitoring reports the company turned into the state.

The Kentucky cabinet was unaware of these false submissions and responded by filing an administrative complaint against Frasure Creek covering all of the false data we found, a common tactic for state agencies to prevent citizen involvement in this type of case. Now, we are filing a motion to become parties to the cabinet’s enforcement action.

To anyone following our lawsuits against Frasure Creek, these recent developments will sound familiar. This isn’t the first time we’ve caught the company turning in false water monitoring reports. Frasure Creek was one of three Kentucky coal companies we filed legal actions against in 2010 and 2011 for submitting falsified pollution reports that were concealing water quality violations.

In all of those cases the cabinet stepped in with slap-on-the-wrist settlements, compelling us to intervene in cases where we had brought the violations to light. The only difference in this case is that Frasure Creek and the cabinet have yet to reach a settlement, so we haven’t seen how lax the enforcement will be this time around.

Both of the cabinet’s previous settlements with Frasure Creek were thrown out by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd last December. In a scathing opinion, Shepherd stated that when “one company so systematically subverts the requirements of law, it not only jeopardizes environmental protection on the affected permits, it creates a regulatory climate in which the Cabinet sends the message that cheating pays.”

Judge Shepherd’s rulings are being appealed by the cabinet (think about that, the state agency, not Frasure Creek, is asking for an appeal). But we are hoping that this time around the cabinet will take us seriously, and won’t reach a weak settlement or resort to legal run-arounds to prevent citizen involvement. After all aren’t our state agencies supposed to be accountable to the people, not to the corporations they are supposed to regulate?

Appalachian Voices is joined in these efforts by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club and the Waterkeeper Alliance. The citizens’ groups are represented by Mary Cromer of Appalachian Citizens Law Center, attorney Lauren Waterworth, and the Pace Law School Environmental Litigation Clinic.

Read past posts about our clean water lawsuits in Kentucky. Subscribe to the Front Porch Blog to receive regular updates.

An expert kayaker with a serious passion for protecting our waterways, Eric served as our Water Quality Specialist for the Appalachian Water Watch team from 2010 to 2015.


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One COMMENT
  1. Annie says:

    Those in power and in league with all the industries who have done all they can to destroy Kentucky might be interested to know that we know many people who will not travel as tourists to, will not interview for jobs in, will not consider retiring to, will not consider college for their kids in, Kentucky – until and unless Kentucky forcefully, legitimately and urgently commits itself to protecting the marvelous and precious environment of Kentucky – all the waterways, the MOUNTAINS (end now all mountaintop removal mining!), the air, the forests, the land, the beauty! Those of us who love Kentucky and the Appalachian region want the environment PROTECTED!! Those of us who love Planet Earth want the Appalachian region’s environment protected! Tell the Kentucky government and the Congressional members from Kentucky: PROTECT KENTUCKY’S ENVIRONMENT!!! We will do that, too. Thank you.

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