A spokesman for the coal industry accuses the Obama administration of "moving the goal posts" by holding up 79 strip-mining permits to review their impacts on water.
May we suggest a more accurate analogy?
The coal industry has been allowed to play by its own rules for so long that the industry and its apologists-in-high-places can't believe the referees might finally be coming onto the field. And they're not happy.
Probably no laws have ever been more obviously or massively violated than those that are supposed to protect this country's water from the extraction of coal.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given the coal industry a blank check to bury and destroy hundreds of miles of mountain streams, and all their biological richness, under tons of dirt and rock displaced by strip mining.
The Corps has already approved the permits that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rightly holding up for further review.
Other government agencies from the EPA to Kentucky's natural resources department are also guilty. Over the years they have fostered what the late U.S. District Judge Charles Haden called a "climate of lawlessness" that governs the coal industry in Appalachia.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Lexington Herald-Leader.