Commentary: Kentucky is cutting corners on environment

Ron Mills, the former director of the state Division of Mine Permits, said he was fired from that post at the behest of Gov. Steve Beshear because he refused to approve permits that didn't comply with the law.

Beshear denied any involvement in the firing or in the issuance of specific mine permits.

And Len Peters, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, declined to discuss Mills' firing but denied anyone in his cabinet has been pressured to bend the permitting rules.

So, what makes this anything more than one of those he said-they said affairs?

A couple of things.

On Monday, the day before Mills went public with his allegations, the Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental advocacy group, filed a notice of intent to sue the Energy and Environment Cabinet if it did not stop issuing the same kind of permits Mills says he refused to sign. So, Mills isn't alone in claiming the rules aren't being followed.

Applicants for permits are required by law to prove they have the right to enter and mine all of the area covered by the permit. But both Mills and the notice filed by the Kentucky Resources Council claim the Beshear administration has issued some permits to applicants who demonstrated a right to enter and mine just a portion of the permitted area.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Lexington Herald-Leader.