The Richmond Register

Local News

June 12, 2013

Coal suit parties wait for Franklin judge’s ruling

FRANKFORT —  A Franklin Circuit judge will rule soon on a motion by environmental groups to vacate an agreement between the Cabinet for Energy and Environment and Frasure Creek Mining to settle Clean Water Act violations by the financially strapped company.

The environmental groups contend their concerns were ignored by the cabinet although they were granted full intervener status by the court and by the cabinet’s own administrative hearing officer.

In 2010, Appalachian Voices, Waterkeeper Alliance, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and several individuals threatened to sue Frasure Creek and ICG Coal over CWA violations they discovered by examining company-submitted pollution reports, violations previously undetected by the cabinet.

When the cabinet tried to settle the violations without involving the environmental groups, they asked Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd to allow them to intervene and he granted that request. Eventually, the environmentalists, the cabinet and ICG agreed to a settlement, but Frasure Creek said it was financially unable to pay the penalties proposed by the environmental groups.

Subsequently, the company filed for federal bankruptcy protection. In April, Cabinet Secretary Len Peters approved a separate settlement agreement with Frasure Creek through the cabinet’s administrative hearing procedure but the environmentalists weren’t involved in negotiating the agreement.

That prompted the motion by Appalachian Voices and the others seeking to have the agreement vacated.

On Wednesday cabinet attorney Mary Stephens argued the motion should be denied because the environmentalists didn’t name Frasure Creek as a party and said Franklin Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction.

Mary Cromer, attorney for the environmental groups, said they were barred from naming Frasure Creek by federal bankruptcy statutes.

Further, she said, the agreement between the cabinet and Frasure Creek took no account of environmentalists’ objection that the agreement is insufficient to ensure future enforcement of Clean Water Act provisions or deter violations.

Stephens responded that negotiations between the three parties went on for more than a year before breaking down and the cabinet “needed a separate agreement with Frasure Creek.”

“I guess the question is whether the cabinet and Frasure Creek, by reaching a separate agreement, can defeat the (environmentalists’) right to an administrative hearing on the violations, the seriousness of the violations and all the environmental impact,” Shepherd said.

Stephens said the agreement is “supported by the record and more than a year of negotiations with the (environmentalists), Frasure Creek and the cabinet did not result in any agreement.”

Throughout the protracted legal proceedings the environmentalists have complained the cabinet is reluctant to assess stiff enough penalties on the coal companies to deter future violations and protect water systems in eastern Kentucky.

The agreement negotiated with ICG by the environmental groups calls for the company to pay more than $500,000 to clean up and monitor water systems as well as prescribing penalties for future violations.

The proposed cabinet agreement with Frasure Creek requires it to complete reclamation of mine sites but assess smaller penalties in light of the company’s financial condition.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 Shoulders-B.jpg Eggs fly at park

    Easter has probably never been so “eggstravagant” in Richmond as it was Saturday during the annual Eggstravaganza in Irvine-McDowell Park.
    For the first time, thousands of eggs were dropped, appropriately by an “eggbeater”-type helicopter, in addition to thousands of eggs already scattered on the grass below. Together, they numbered about 10,000, according to Erin Moore, Richmond Parks and Recreation director.

    April 20, 2014 12 Photos

  • City awaits funds for Water Street project

    Richmond city officials are still awaiting word on grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Water Street drainage project.
    However, Mayor Jim Barnes said he is confident the money should come through by May 1.

    April 20, 2014

  • Kitcarson1.jpg Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

    Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.
    The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.
    With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

    April 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • KY 52 link to I-75 to be discussed May 13

    While a proposed link from Nicholasville to Exit 95 on Interstate 75 north of Richmond has garnered attention and organized opposition, the state also is developing plans to link I-75 to another community to the west.

    April 20, 2014

  • May 30 last school day for students

    After 16 snows days and two weather delays this winter, the Madison County School Board decided Thursday to end the school year on Friday, May 30.

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-19 TechExtra1.jpg Students showcase projects in Technology Extravaganza

    Madison County School students showed off just how tech savvy they can be during the district’s sixth annual Technology Extravaganza on Thursday at Madison Central High School. After the showcase, more than 350 students were honored for their work.

    April 19, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-19 SchoolBoardJesseWard.jpg Ward honored for service; tech center named after him

    Retired Madison County educator Jesse Ward was recognized Thursday for his many years of service. To honor him, Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the board’s decision to rename the district’s technology training center on North Second Street in Richmond the Jesse P. Ward Technology and Training Center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Brian Smith.jpg Berea man indicted on 24 child porn counts

    A Madison grand jury has indicted a Berea man on 24 counts related to child pornography.

    Brian J. Smith, 26, is charged with four counts of distribution and 20 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by a minor.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Gregory Powell.jpg Police apprehend burglary suspect

    An observant witness was able to help Richmond police catch a burglary suspect shortly after a break-in Thursday afternoon on Savanna Drive off Berea Road.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results