Updated Wed, Mar 12, 2014 3:51 pm
Eighteen coal facilities in Ohio are operating with expired pollution-discharge permits under an agency where allegations of coal-industry influence arose during a personnel flap last year.
An Associated Press review of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency records finds 13 of the 18 have expired since Republican Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, about a quarter of the total.
The agency's spokesman says expired permits are legal and enforceable. Most are progressing toward updated approvals.
Environmentalists contend delayed permit renewals allow mining companies to avoid modernizing clean-up technologies as required under the federal Clean Water Act.
In August, Ohio EPA's veteran surface-water chief said his retirement was forced after he refused to approve illegally weak permit updates. The agency's director also resigned.
Kasich rejects claims mining interests influenced the departures.