Final version of new EPA rule revealed, Kentucky leaders react to impact on state

The final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan was unveiled by President Obama Monday and Kentucky leaders say the regulations will cause major damage to some of the state’s biggest industries.

The rule from the EPA limits carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, particularly from coal, in an effort to press for the use of cleaner burning natural gas and zero-carbon sources like nuclear, solar and wind, and energy efficiency. To read more details of the rule, read more on Politico.

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the rule “regressive regulations” that will harm struggling workers and families while noting the projected cost of the rule is in the billions.

“They’ll also likely result in higher energy bills for those who can least afford them, potentially raising electricity rates by double digits for the people I represent,” McConnell said. “All this, for what? Not only will these massive regulations fail to meaningfully affect the global climate, but they could actually end up harming the environment by outsourcing energy production to countries with poor environmental records like India and China. They may also be illegal.”

McConnell went on to point out his call to governors take a “wait-and-see” approach to the regulations as well as the charge for states to develop a compliance plan, noting the recent EPA rule overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The question of whether or not the state should develop a plan for implementation of the regulations has been a hot topic in the state, especially in the 2015 governor’s race as a plan will have to be submitted after the next governor takes office. (Read what the candidates had to say about the issue in the coal section of the Kentucky Chamber’s Voter Guide.)

Kentucky Energy Secretary Len Peters told the Kentucky Chamber that if states do not submit a plan, they would be subject to blanket federal regulations which could be even more harmful to the state. Because of this, Peters said the Beshear administration feels the state should submit a plan.

In a statement Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear expressed his frustration with the rule and added that he plans to continue to fight “this onerous rule” in the courts with Attorney General Jack Conway.

“I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by the huge changes the EPA made from the proposed rule. What is being proposed for Kentucky is disastrous – disastrous for our declining coal economy and equally disastrous for our very important manufacturing economy,” Beshear said. “The EPA claimed that it listened to the comments received on the proposed rule for the Clean Power Plan. It is clear from the emissions numbers the EPA has set for Kentucky that the agency did not listen to us. 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.”

In response to the rule, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Bryan Sunderland made the following statement:

“The final EPA rule not only fails to address any of the serious concerns we previously expressed about reliability and cost of electricity, it is actually worse for Kentucky than the original proposal. It will raise costs for businesses and consumers, reduce reliability and make it nearly impossible for thousands of Kentuckians who have lost their coal jobs to be reemployed. It is hard to imagine the damage done by this rule being reversed even if lawsuits prevail because companies are being coerced by threat of massive fines to make long-term changes that will negatively impact the cost of energy needed to power our economy,” Sunderland said.

The Kentucky Chamber’s full stance on coal can be found on page 18 of the 2015 Legislative Agenda.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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