Coal Court Round-up: Kentuckians 3, Beshear 0

Back in 2010, Kentucky environmental groups discovered that Frasure Creek Mining was committing thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act and announced their intent to sue.

Gov. Beshear’s Energy and Environment Cabinet had other ideas, attempting to prevent that lawsuit from going forward by negotiating a slap on the wrist settlement with Frasure. The environmental groups – KFTC, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Riverkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance — then attempted to intervene in the case. Beshear & Co. called such meddling by citizens “an unwarranted burden” on their little backroom deal, but the circuit judge disagreed, allowing the groups to join the case. The Court of Appeals upheld this ruling, and then Team Beshear/Frasure appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruling was yesterday, and it was unanimous:

Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson concluded that Shepherd had the authority to allow the intervention.

“Clearly the regulations contemplate citizen intervention in an agency’s state-court enforcement action, such as this one, and to that extent these regulations would be meaningless if such intervention were pre-empted,” Abramson wrote.

She wrote that if the state or Frasure Creek Mining were unhappy with the final settlement after objections were heard, they could avail themselves of the appeals courts.

“Merely adding a party to the suit, after all, generally at least, will not deprive any other party of the ability to assert and vindicate his or her rights in the ordinary course of trial and appeal,” Abramson wrote.

Here’s what Appalachian Voices had to say:

“We think it’s sad that the cabinet is wasting their resources trying to prevent citizen involvement here when they should be focusing their time on trying to prevent pollution problems.”

Now how in the world is Steve Beshear supposed to do the bidding of King Coal when those snooping tree-huggers are now free to stand between them? It’s positively un-Kentuckian.

Via B&P, and to them (Environmentalists and KY court system), Gov. Beshear says…

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