U.S. Senator Rand Paul is joining the chorus of conservative voices criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency during this week's hearings on Kentucky mining permits. Many state officials are planning to speak out at today's meeting in Frankfort and Thursday's meeting in Pikeville. The Frankfort meeting is set to take place in a few hours and rallies for and against expanded mining are already underway.With Congress in session this week, Paul is one of a handful of area politicians who won't be able to make the meetings. But through his office, Paul released the following statement that will be added to the EPA's meeting records. The denial of these 36 permits is just another step by the EPA to stifle the coal industry in Kentucky. In objecting to these permits, the EPA has trampled on the rights of the state to oversee its permitting. As I'm sure the EPA is aware, the Clean Water Act specifically gives Kentucky primacy over the 402 permitting scheme. EPA has historically abided by this arrangement. But under the Obama Administration, the coal industry has been subject to "regulation by ambush" on multiple fronts.
Fellow senator Mitch McConnell made similar remarks on the U.S. Senate floor today. And like McConnell, Kentucky's junior senator says he wants the EPA to work with the Kentucky coal industry.
It is time for these practices to end, and these policies to stop. The Clean Water Act and the major mining statute, the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act, have strong federalism components that allow states to take the lead over permitting and enforcement. The EPA needs to honor the intent of the statute and allow Kentucky to exert its primacy authority over these 36 permits.