The Richmond Register

Local News

July 8, 2012

Washed away dreams

Floyd County man fears effects of surface mining



“I asked him if he would let his grandchildren play in Raccoon Creek,” Handshoe recalls. “He just put his head down and I said, ‘You just answered me, Governor. Yet my grandchildren are supposed to play in it.’”
Beshear silent
Beshear refused to be interviewed for this story. His spokeswoman, Kerri Richardson, said Beshear would be out of town — although the request was made the previous week and Beshear made at least one public appearance in the capitol after that. CNHI News offered to conduct the interview by phone or travel anywhere within an hour’s drive, but Richardson said Beshear couldn’t accommodate the request.
Beshear received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions for his two races for governor from coal and coal-related companies, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. James River coal employees contributed at least $7,400. His 2011 inaugural committee took in more than $150,000 from coal interests.
Beshear says Kentucky “can and does mine coal in an environmentally friendly way.” He once demanded, in a speech to the General Assembly, that federal mining and environmental regulators “get off our backs.”
Handshoe’s problems have multiplied since Beshear’s visit. 
“I believe this is a life-threatening situation I’m in,” Handshoe said. “The mountain is moving. If the mountain blows, there is no time to get to safety. The problem is 500 feet above my house. There is nowhere else for the water to go.”
State inspectors continue to test water from the mountain. They’ve asked the federal Office of Surface Mining to determine if the poisoned water is “due to later surface mining operations.”
Meanwhile, Handshoe watches and worries and sends Tess to sleep elsewhere when it rains.
As a coal truck roars by, Handshoe is asked what he will do. He stares at the ground.

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