In a tour through several eastern Kentucky towns this week, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced his plan to save Kentucky’s coal jobs, which have been negatively impacted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) permitting approval process. The Coal Jobs Protection Act, which Sen. McConnell plans to file next week in the U.S. Senate, would force the EPA to either approve or veto the nearly 402 Kentucky mining permits that have been held up since 2008. These stalled permits have cost the Commonwealth thousands of jobs and over $123 million in coal severance money. It’s estimated that roughly 3,500 mining jobs in Kentucky could be in jeopardy if the EPA doesn’t revise its current approval process.
The Kentucky Chamber joins 17 local chambers and like-minded business associations, such as the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors of Kentucky in its overwhelming support of this legislation. Kentucky’s coal industry employs over 14,000 people directly. For every miner employed, three more Kentuckians hold jobs indirectly dependent on coal, including farmers, realtors, and transportation workers. With numbers like this, Kentucky’s economy simply can’t afford for these coal permits to be stuck on the sidelines.
The Chamber plans to closely monitor the progress of this legislation and continue voicing its strong support wherever necessary.