Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ky. political leaders rail against EPA plan

The Obama administration on Monday announced a plan to curb carbon emissions from the nation's power plants by 32 percent over the next 15 years. Kentucky's top politicians – Republican and Democrat alike – are speaking out against the newly-proposed EPA standards known as the Clean Power Plan.

“The finalization of these regulations will shutter more power plants across the nation, double down against affordable energy and the reliability of our grid, and deal a major blow to jobs and the economy," Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Hopkinsville) said in a statement Monday. “(The President) views climate change as the No. 1 issue facing mankind and a legacy item he will pursue at any cost. I disagree and will continue our efforts in the House to invalidate this rule.”

Whitfield serves as the House Energy and Power Subcommittee chairman.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, said he will sue to block the federal plan from taking effect because its implementation will be harmful to the state's economy.

Western Kentucky's economy, and scores of families in Crittenden County, depend on the jobs coal creates. According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, for the first six months of 2015, neighboring Union and Webster counties were the No. 1 and No. 6 coal-producing counties in the state. Hopkins County ranked No. 2 and accounts for a quarter of the 3,700 coal jobs in western Kentucky reported in the quarter ending in June.

The White House claims the Clean Power Plan will create 300,000 jobs when it is fully implemented, but those jobs would not be in the coal industry.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader on Capitol Hill, has also vowed to continue fighting the president's "war on coal," saying it will have a huge negative impact on Kentucky's coal industry. McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator in Washington, is a Republican.

And Gov. Steve Beshear also weighed in Monday afternoon.

“What is being proposed for Kentucky is disastrous – disastrous for our declining coal economy and equally disastrous for our very important manufacturing economy," the second-term Democratic governor said. "This rule leaves the Commonwealth with few, if any, alternatives to formulate a plan without significant harmful impact to rate payers, manufacturing companies and the overall economy.

(Editor's note: The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this story.)