December 28, 2016 – by James Bruggers in the Louisville Courier Journal
After being the target of critical editorials in Kentucky’s two largest newspapers, Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet fired back Thursday with an internet posting that argues its proposed rules for coal combustion waste actually strengthen – not weaken – protection of the environment and public health.
The Naturally Connected blog from the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection also takes aim at the media, arguing news coverage and editorials “mislead readers about the rules’ intent and potential effect on the health and welfare of Kentuckians.” By incorporating new regulations on the management of coal-burning wastes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kentucky DEP argues, “the proposed state regulations would maintain and in some cases increase environmental and public protections, not diminish them.”
But one of the state’s top environmental attorneys quickly countered that it is state officials who are misleading the public with Orwellian arguments along the lines of “war is peace” and “ignorance is strength.”
Attorney Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council and an expert on Kentucky waste laws, called the state’s argument “pure sophistry,” which means the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.
The new EPA based rule came after decades of fighting nationally over how ash and scrubber sludge should be handled. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic, according to the EPA, and without proper management, these contaminants can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air.
Kentucky, among the nation’s biggest coal-burning waste generators, argues that the proposed regulations will require managing dust and storm water as well as monitoring groundwater and other requirements. DEP went on to say the agency “has and will exercise its authority to inspect these facilities to ensure compliance, investigate citizen complaints, and take enforcement action as necessary.” Continue reading