U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul introduced legislation today aimed at protecting Kentucky’s coal miners from obstructive permitting requirements required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill would ensure that all 404 permits, which are requried for mines to operate legally, move forward to be either approved or rejected, so applicants aren’t left in limbo unsure how to act. The bill also ensures that the EPA cannot use its veto retroactively. According to McConnell,
The EPA has turned the permitting process, which is already cumbersome, into a back-door means of shutting down coal mines. The thousands of Kentuckians who work in coal mining or have jobs that are dependent on it are in jeopardy. Other industries besides coal are at risk, too: I’ve heard from farmers, realtors, the transportation industry and others who also need permits from the EPA to continue their business. Our legislation ensures that what the EPA did in West Virginia will not happen in Kentucky. Attacking an industry so important to Kentucky would put people out of work, impede job growth, and increase energy prices.
Coal is a vital sector of Kentucky’s economy. More than 200,000 jobs in the state depend on it, including the jobs of approximately 18,000 coal miners, and half the country’s electricity comes from coal. The Chamber will follow this federal legislation closely and keep you updated on the bill’s progress in Washington. To read the Senators’ press release on the legislation, click here.