Head of KY. mine permitting division fired

FRANKFORT, KY. (AP) - Officials in Gov. Steve Beshear's administration won't say why the head of Kentucky's mine permit division has been fired.

A spokeswoman for the governor referred The Courier-Journal's questions about Ron Mills' firing to Len Peters, secretary of Energy and Environment Cabinet. Peters declined to be interviewed through a spokeswoman.

Mills also declined to comment on why he was dismissed from the job that pays $79,000 per year. The firing comes about a week after Beshear and Peters announced a hike in fees to pay for 19 additional employees to help clear a backlog of permit applications.

Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources council and an environmental lobbyist, says Mills may have been fired to placate coal interests that want to speed up the permitting process. FitzGerald says Mills was fired for doing "a superlative job."

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