FACES of Coal to the EPA: Conductivity is Not the Way to Measure Water Quality

Jun 15, 2010, 12:24 ET from Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security (FACES of Coal) released a video on its website, www.facesofcoal.org, today explaining in easy-to-understand terms and examples why the use of conductivity is an ill-advised and inappropriate measure for water quality impairment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued guidance on water quality requirements for coal mines in six Appalachian states. This guidance, which was announced on April 1, 2010 and became immediately effective, relies solely on electric conductivity (also known as specific conductance) as an indicator of water quality impairment.

In the FACES "Conductivity 101" video, Ben Faulkner, a stream scientist and environmental consultant based in West Virginia, explains that conductivity measures the ability of a given quantity of water to conduct electricity at a specified temperature. It is neither a meaningful measure of contamination nor of the ability of a given body of water to meet its designated use. Faulkner explains that conductivity is a tool used in the field as an initial screening tool—not to identify the cause of any water quality impairment.

"EPA's actions have been extremely frustrating for a number of reasons, but the agency's sole reliance on using conductivity as a water quality standard is among the most troublesome," said Bryan Brown, West Virginia State Coordinator of FACES of Coal. "This is yet another example of bureaucrats in Washington overreaching in their regulation of an industry with no concern for the consequences of their actions. In their guidelines they want runoff from mine sites to have lower conductivity than public drinking water? It's irresponsible and misguided, and as a taxpayer, it's embarrassing that this is the best idea they could come up with."

Brown continued, "The EPA's bureaucrats, who have been on a mission to destroy coal mining jobs, are not only implementing poor policy, but are also using bad science. This situation is frightening, and downright shameful, and hopefully our elected leaders can defend our jobs and our communities from this regulatory abuse."

The video concerning conductivity can be found at http://www.facesofcoal.org/facts/conductivity/

The Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security (FACES of Coal) is an alliance of more than 60,000 people from all walks of life who are joining forces to educate lawmakers and the general public about the importance of coal and coal mining to our local and national economies and to our nation's energy security. In addition to keeping tens of thousands of people employed in good-paying jobs, coal is the lifeblood of our domestic energy supply, generating nearly half the electricity consumed in the United States today.

SOURCE Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security