WV Gov family'south coal firm sues regulators

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Source:   —  August 12, 2017, at 5:23 PM

Jim Justice'south family has sued two KY regulators individually, claiming they're to blame for the company'south reclamation delays that could result in $4.5 million in fines.

WV Gov family'south coal firm sues regulators

A coal company running by WV Gov. Jim Justice'south family has sued two KY regulators individually, claiming they're to blame for the company'south reclamation delays that could result in $4.5 million in fines.

The Courier-Journal reports that KY Fuel Corp has sued KY Dept for Natural Resources Commissioner Allen Luttrell and Deputy Commissioner John Small. The Pike County Circuit Ct lawsuits seek money from the regulators personally, not from the state.

The claims middle on whether Justice is violating a two thousand fourteen agreement with KY regulators, who cited KY Fuel and other Justice companies with hundreds of coal mine reclamation violations in eight eastern Kentucky counties.

The agreement gave Justice a September two thousand fifteen deadline to reclaim nearly ten miles of highwalls that are carved into mountainsides after mining companies blast far rock and coal in a strip mining technique.

KY executive have told a judge that as late as latest month, about five miles of reclamation were still required.

Additionally, they said the companies had been cited for eight more violations since September two thousand fifteen, further breaching the two thousand fourteen agreement. The executive asked the judge to discover that the companies violated the agreement and should pay the all .5 million they owed.

However, the judge ruled latest mo that only fifteen of four hundred seventy-two violations hadn't yet been addressed, and directed the companies to hold emotional toward compliance.

Attorneys for KY Fuel claim Luttrell has made "willful and malicious" comments that caused another mining company to back out of performing reclamation at a Pike County mine.

They also claim that Tiny "willfully and maliciously" stopped excavation at another Pike County mine due to a workers' compensation issue.

Kentucky'south Energy cabinet spokesman John Mura said the lawsuits "show up to be an attempt to intimidate public executive from performing their statutory duties to enforce coal mine reclamation laws."

"The valid actions are entirely without merit and will be vigorously defended to defend these state government executive who devote their careers to protecting the land and the citizens of Kentucky," Mura said in a written statement.

Attorney Richard Getty, who represents KY Fuel, said the lawsuits are about accountability, not intimidation.

"When a regulator crosses a line, he ought to be held accountable," Getty said.

According to KY secretary of state records, Justice has removed himself as president or board member of several of his coal companies involved in the case. His son, Jim Justice III, is presently KY Fuel's president.

Earlier this month, Justice announced his switch from Democrat to Republican during a WV rally with President Donald Trump.

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