McConnell: EPA proposal worst blow to Kentucky in modern times

Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Mitch McConnell
Alison Lundergan Grimes
Alison Lundergan Grimes

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Mitch McConnell is vowing to fight sweeping changes revealed Monday by the Obama administration aiming to cut pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency set targets that would reduce emissions by 30 percent nationwide by 2030.

Coal currently accounts for 40 percent of this country's energy supply and even the EPA said that will drop under the regulations, estimating it around 30 percent.

In a coal-producing state like Kentucky, Senator McConnell said that will devastate the state.

"This is the single worst blow to Kentucky's economy in modern times," he said upon arriving in Louisville Monday.

McConnell said proposed changes will further devastate the coal industry in the Bluegrass.

"We've lost 7,000 coal mining jobs so far in Kentucky during the Obama years," he said. "We have 15 coal-fired generation plants in our state that are going to be adversely effected by this and beyond the coal jobs, there's the question of utility rates."

In 2012, the most recent year data was available, Kentucky had the 5th lowest average retail price for electricity in the country according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  McConnell said that's a major advantage in attracting people to the state and it would stop under the changes.

"We've been able to still be competitive because of location and low utility rates," he said.  "You throw away low utility rates and one could argue that Indiana and Tennessee are pretty good on the basis of location as well."

Even his Democratic opponent in November's election said on Primary Election night, she said she disagrees with the administration's policies on emissions.

"I don't agree with the president's war on coal," said candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. "I think it's wrong for Kentucky."

However, Louisville's representative in the U.S. House of Representatives said, just wait a bit.

"Anybody who claims to understand what the impact of this new proposal would be today is dreaming," said Rep. John Yarmuth (D).

Yarmuth has worked for emission reductions and said Kentucky has already taken steps toward meeting the EPA's proposal.

"We've closed a number of coal-fired power plants in Kentucky since 2005 so we've already made significant reductions," he said.

Currently, the EPA has set a target of a 18 percent emissions reduction in Kentucky. Other states have much higher targets to hit the national reduction goal of 30 percent.

McConnell said any EPA regulations are an end around Congress, since a previous attempt by the Obama administration to pass similar regulations failed.

Senator McConnell said he plans to introduce legislation to block the changes but isn't sure if it will get taken up in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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