Inside Appalachian Voices

Going to Court for Clean Water

Date: April 8, 2015

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Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Frasure Creek

In mid-March, Appalachian Voices and our partners in Kentucky sued Frasure Creek Mining in federal court for more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, which could lead to nearly $700 million in fines.

In 2014, Frasure Creek Mining submitted more than 100 reports to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet that contained false water monitoring data. These reports are supposed to be used to make sure companies are meeting the water pollution limits in their permits, but when companies turn in false reports, that task becomes impossible.

In the first quarter of 2014, nearly half of Frasure Creek’s water monitoring reports were false — they contained data copied from previous reports. In a few cases, violations were removed from reports when they were duplicated.

A few years ago, Frasure Creek was the top producer of coal from mountaintop removal mines in Kentucky. Although Frasure Creek has stopped mining coal for the time being, its mines continue to produce toxic pollution and the company continues to rack up numerous violations from the state for failing to properly reclaim the mines.

If you think all of this sounds familiar, you would be right. We first uncovered similar false reports from Frasure Creek and two other coal companies almost five years ago. The subsequent legal actions are still ongoing. Late last year, inadequate settlements between Frasure Creek and the Cabinet were thrown out by a Kentucky judge, and that decision is now being appealed. We are also attempting to intervene in the state’s enforcement action for these 2014 violations.

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.

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