- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A report says utility representatives and state regulators revised and weakened a proposal to regulate the storage of hazardous coal ash near Kentucky power plants before allowing the public to comment.

WFPL-FM reports (http://bit.ly/2jCqcCG ) that a September 2015 draft of regulations was extensive, but many of the specifics, including groundwater monitoring and inspections, had been removed by the time the proposal was submitted to the Legislative Research Commission in October 2016. The station reports records show state regulators met at least four times that year with utility representatives to discuss the regulations.

Kentucky Resources Council environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald said such one-sided input from industry is unprecedented in recent years. He said officials typically also seek feedback from others including environmental groups and nearby landowners.

“I think it’s unconscionable, and I think it does not reflect well on how little value (the regulators) place on public involvement in the development of regulations that are intended to protect the public,” FitzGerald said.

Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura defended the process and noted that the proposal was revised again after getting public comments in November.

“As a part of the pre-KRS 13A deliberative process of regulation development, it is common for the state to informally discuss regulatory matters with the regulated sector that are directly impacted by those regulations,” Mura said in a statement.

He said the state’s proposal complies with new federal rules.

“It was the Obama EPA, after a lengthy regulation development process, that promulgated an industry self-implementing program with no permitting program and with the public/state involvement process done via posting of information on industry website(s),” Mura said.

The rule must get approval from two legislative committees before it is finalized.

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Information from: WFPL-FM, http://wfpl.org

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