By Cara Cooper, KSEC Organizer
It is frustrating to think that the very agencies who are supposed to be protecting us don't take their jobs seriously. It is the responsibility of the Kentucky Department of Water to protect our waterways, the very reason that they exist, yet this year our Department of Water proposed new selenium standards that will hurt our water, our people, and out economy. If you ask me they should be fired.
It is even more frustrating that our legislature, which is supposed to act for the good of their constituents would approve these standards, even after recieving hundreds of public comments and facing a room full of citizen opponents to these regulations. But that's what they did, in April of this year.
The newly proposed standards will increase the allowable selenium in our waterways to fourteen times the earlier standard! The standards also change the way that the selenium levels will be sampled. The new sampling method requires a fish tissue sample. Now don't get me wrong, fish tissue sampling is a very good indicator of selenium levels in a body of water. The main problem with this method is that many streams in Kentucky, especially in the coal mining parts of the state, are "dead". It is impossible to test fish tissue, if there is no fish populations to test. So not only is the standard too high, it is practically unenforceable.
Leave it to Kentucky to value the right to pollute over the right to clean water and healthy ecosystems. Luckily, these new standards must be approved by the EPA before they can be enacted, so there is another place to try and get our voices heard on this important issue. Join the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition in the "Save Our Streams Day of Action" on Wednesday July 24th and email or call the Region 4 EPA. Ask them to deny these changes and propose safe, enforceable standards for our water. More information on our website, including sample call and email scripts!
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The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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