Proposed Limits on EPA Delay Bridge Repair Funds

Some Kentucky residents upset with the state’s congressional delegation traveled to the nation’s capital this week to protest surface coal mining.

Stanley Sturgill is a retired coal miner and a former mine inspector. The Lynch, Kentucky resident wants to get one thing straight.

“I’m not anti-coal. I’m anti-mountain top removal and surface mining,” said Sturgill.

Sturgill and more than one hundred others are in Washington this week. On Wednesday twenty two of them were arrested for refusing to leave the offices of four lawmakers, including that of Kentucky Republican Congressman Hal Rogers. Sturgill says Rogers and the Kentucky’s senators are ignoring downstream contamination from surface mining.

“They’re not representing the people of Kentucky – the southeastern part of Kentucky. They’re representing the coal companies in Kentucky,” said Sturgill.

In the seven years the anti-surface mining group has come to Washington, they say Congressman Rogers and the state’s other Republicans have refused to meet with them. But Rogers says he didn’t know the group wanted a meeting.

“I’d be happy to meet with them but I’m busy. We’re marking up two bills this morning in subcommittee. We’re marking up the bill on the floor – passing the bill on the floor with all these amendments. I’ve just not had the time,” said Rogers.

If given the chance, protestor Teri Blanton wants to find out why the delegation is fighting the EPA’s decision to regulate coal ash?

“Why are so many of the ponds in Kentucky listed as high hazard?” asked Blanton.

House Republicans have included a provision in a transportation bill that prohibits EPAregulation of coal ash. Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield says that’s an important provision.

“It’s never been declared a hazardous waste ever. And, as you know, it’s used in so many construction materials in our highways and our cement. And I don’t think there’s any basis whatsoever to declare it a hazardous material. And if it is declared a hazardous material then there’s going to really be a major problem of disposing of it,” said Whitfield. 

The transportation bill is vital for Kentucky’s ailing bridges, but the GOP’s coal ash provision has held up the legislation.