As he announced his lawsuit to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's increased scrutiny of strip-mining, Gov. Steve Beshear said: "Kentucky can and does mine coal while at the same time protecting Kentucky's environment."
Hundreds of miles of destroyed or polluted streams tell a different story. Instead of protecting the environment, state government has a history of abetting the coal industry's destruction of mountain forests and streams.
The latest example is the administration's eagerness to enable one of Beshear's political contributors to pollute tributaries of the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River.
Despite serious questions about whether the operation has been lawfully permitted, the administration is allowing Cambrian Coal to blast and bulldoze away a few hundred feet of mountain at a 791-acre site near Elkhorn City in Pike County.
The company's plans call for filling seven hollows with dirt and rock displaced by mining and enlarging two existing hollow fills.
Cambrian's president, James Booth of Inez, is a prominent contributor to political campaigns. In March, he gave $1,000 toward Beshear's re-election.
As outdoors enthusiasts know, this mine could harm a place that has real potential for expanding the adventure tourism Beshear touts as key to Eastern Kentucky's future.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kentucky.com.