While many Kentucky governors have snuggled up to the coal industry, Gov. Matt Bevin outdid them all for sheer brazenness by appointing a coal company executive to oversee Kentucky’s environmental protection cabinet.
Charles G. Snavely was an executive with International Coal Group, the company that admitted to committing thousands of water pollution violations in Kentucky and to submitting thousands of false water quality reports to the state covering up the violations. The violations and the false reports were uncovered by citizens groups who filed suit to force action. The company agreed to pay $575,000 in fines and penalties.
ICG is now a subsidiary of Arch, from which Snavely retired as president of Eastern U.S. Operations last year. Arch is trying to bilk thousands of retired miners out of their health care benefits.
We hope that Snavely surprises us with his commitment to enforcing environmental laws without favoritism.
As the coal industry continues to decline in Eastern Kentucky the state must hold coal operators to their reclamation requirements and other legacy obligations.
Ted Withrow, an ex-official in the environment cabinet and an activist who pursued the ICG violations, told CNNI’s Ronnie Ellis that Snavely’s appointment looks like a case of handing the hen house over to the fox.
For the sake of all who live downstream, let’s hope he’s wrong.