Pasley said sediment is the top source of pollution in the Kentucky River, coming primarily from the practice of dumping coal mining wastes into streams.
Consumers pay more to have the water treated due to its heavy sediment load, he said, adding that the sediment builds up behind dams, harms fish and causes rivers to lose their recreational appeal, which harms tourism revenue.
In March, after more than four hours of testimony in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Pasley's bill received only 13 of the necessary 15 votes to get out of committee. Twelve members voted against the measure, but four abstained or did not vote.
Opponents of the legislation have argued in the past that it would disrupt Kentucky's coal industry, making mining less economical and harming coal-related jobs. Critics also say that environmentalists have exaggerated the impact mountaintop removal has on the environment.
However, proponents say several scientific studies have documented the destructive impact resulting from using streams for waste dumps. This practice is most commonly associated with mountaintop removal and other forms of radical strip mining.
They point to hearings last March, when experts from Eastern Kentucky University and Virginia Tech University testified that the practice is detrimental to the environment.
Also, they say studies by the Kentucky Division of Water and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have confirmed the devastating impact of radical strip mining and valley fills on water quality, upstream and downstream.
The House Democratic leadership battles this month may determine if the legislation will get another hearing in that committee or be assigned to the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, where its has failed to get a hearing in the past.
"This bill would keep mining out of the streams. It's as simple as that," said Truman Hurt, a former Perry County coal miner and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, which is supporting the measure.