I'm Ricky Handshoe and I live in Floyd County, KY, where my family has lived for generations. Raccoon Creek flows right by my house. We used to have the best water on the creek and just about more fish than anywhere else for a stream this size. Now five years later, the EPA says everything is dead.
My home is surrounded on three sides by mountaintop removal operations. Heavy metals and other pollutants have made the conductivity of the water over 11 times what the EPA says is safe for aquatic life. The water 15 feet from my daughter’s bedroom window is an environmental and safety hazard. I'm worried that my family and I won't be able to stay here much longer, but it's not like I can just pull a box of money out from under my bed and leave.
After years of scientific study, the EPA issued a guidance on acceptable levels of conductivity in stream water. I was hopeful this would prevent people from experiencing the same thing my family did. Unfortunately, last week a court sided with the coal industry and threw out the EPA's mountaintop removal guidance saying it wasn't an official rule. This decision is bad news for my family and a setback for Appalachia, but together we can make things right.
Urge the EPA to appeal the court's decision, and tell them to make the conductivity guidance an official rule so that we can protect our water.
I hope that the EPA will appeal the court decision blocking its water pollution policies, as it did the Spruce mine decision. At the same time, I urge the EPA to take steps to make these policies more legally defensible and durable by beginning a formal rule-making process to establish water quality standards to protect streams from mountaintop removal. Strong water quality standards are the EPA's best tool to stop the devastating effects of mountaintop removal. Thank you for your leadership at the EPA and your commitment to protect Appalachia.