Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center and its partners scored a major victory for the rights of Kentucky citizens to have a seat at the table when clean water is being threatened. The Supreme Court upheld Judge Phillip Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit Court’s decision to allow the citizens’ groups Appalachian Voices, KFTC, Waterkeeper Alliance and KY Riverkeeper, to intervene to contest the sweetheart deal struck between Frasure Creek Coal Company and Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. The deal, negotiated in private between the state and the coal company, would settle thousands of Clean Water Act violations for false reporting for less than 1% of the maximum penalty. The deal is not sufficient to punish the company or deter future bad conduct from other coal companies. Neither does it do anything to ensure that the pollution problems covered up by the company’s years of false reporting are remediated. The Franklin Circuit has yet to rule on whether the company’s deal with the state is in the public interest.
The groups are represented by Mary Cromer of Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center and Lauren Waterworth of Waterworth Law Office, PLLC.