Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters overturned an administrative law judge's temporary idling of a Pike County mine over a group of environmentalists' objections.
The Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth filed a petition challenging a permit issued for a 742-acre Cambrian Coal Corp. mine near Elkhorn City. The groups said the state did not sufficiently assess the impact the mine would have on water quality in the area.
On Sept. 30, Judge Steve Blanton issued a temporary injunction on mining activity while a ruling on the petition is pending.
On Thursday, Peters overturned that ruling, saying the Sierra Club and KFTC put forth arguments about minerals in the water that are not required to be part of the coal company's permit documents. Economic impacts on the coal company are not considered in this kind of hearing, Peters noted.
"Secretary Peters' decision to vacate Judge Blanton's order is outrageous and is a perfect example of how the Energy and Environment Cabinet is more interested in protecting the coal industry than protecting people and our communities," said Ted Withrow, retired Ky. Division of Water employee and member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, in a news release.
Cambrian can continue mining until a final order is decided on the permit issue.
"I am very pleased ... and thankful that Cambrian and our affiliates can resume our regular operations that employ 50 people at that site each day," said Mark Campbell, vice president of Cambrian, in a news release.