Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is praising a federal judge's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency infringed on state's rights by setting up water-quality criteria for surface coal mining operations.

The decision is considered a victory for the coal industry, which filed one of the four lawsuits against the EPA regulation along with West Virginia and Kentucky. According to EPA officials, the policy was set up to ensure a better system for surface coal-mining permits under the Clean Water Act.

From Beshear's office:

“Today’s action by the federal court is a victory for coal miners who have seen mines close and their jobs put in jeopardy due, in part, to the actions of the federal EPA.

The ruling in U.S. District Court confirms my administration’s long-held position that the federal EPA overreached its authority and essentially halted three dozen pending coal permits in Kentucky – permits that were met with erratic and unpredictable changes in EPA standards.  

My Energy and Environment Cabinet has worked tirelessly with the EPA to resolve these issues. However, the EPA has turned a deaf ear to our reasoning and, instead, chose to illegally block action on these pending permits.  Today, the District Court agreed that the EPA’s actions were wrong.

As I have stated time and again, Kentucky can and does mine coal while meeting the legal standards to protect Kentucky’s environment.  I urge the EPA to act now to release these permits and allow Kentucky’s coal miners to get back to work.”