McConnell Takes Kentucky Coal Miners’ Message to the EPA

Senator McConnell and Brian Patton of James River Coal defend coal at EPA listening session in Washington DC.
Senator McConnell and Brian Patton of James River Coal defend coal at EPA listening session in Washington DC.

Frustrated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bypassed Kentucky and other major coal producers during its “listening session” tour on regulations for existing power plants, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took the concerns of coal country to the EPA. Earlier today, he attended the EPA’s listening session in Washington, DC and brought along a representative from James River Coal so that the EPA could hear the concerns of Kentucky coal miners and their families. During the session, Senator McConnell once again invited the EPA to hold a listening session in Pikeville, Kentucky.

During the session, Senator McConnell said, “It is my understanding these sessions are intended to gather stakeholder input on what people think about future carbon regulations on existing power plants. However, I couldn’t help but notice these sessions are scheduled only for states where coal does not have a large presence, like California and Massachusetts.

“Other regions of the country, however, are well aware that coal provides nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity. As such, I have asked the EPA to hold a hearing in Pikeville, Kentucky, to hear the concerns of coal country.

“But since the EPA hasn’t responded, I decided—on behalf of Kentucky’s coal miners and their families—that I would bring their concerns to you myself. If the EPA won’t come to listen to us, we’ll come here, to the EPA.

“By now it is clear that this administration and your agency have declared a War on Coal. For Kentucky, this means a war on jobs and our state’s economy.

“The president has outright stated his intentions for the coal industry. He has said, and I quote: ‘If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can—it’s just that it will bankrupt them.’

“But before you do, you’re going to hear from us. Coal employs more than 13,000 people in Kentucky. Coal jobs pay more than one billion dollars in wages to Kentuckians every year. Coal is crucial to affordable, independent energy for our nation. That’s why we’re here to remind you that coal keeps the lights on for Kentucky—and the nation.”

Senator McConnell also invited Brian Patton of Kentucky to attend the hearing to speak for Kentucky coal miners today. Brian is currently the president of service at the James River Coal Service Company.

“As a fifth-generation coal man, he truly understands the central role coal plays in Kentucky’s industry and our economy, in our history and our future. Brian knows full well how the Kentucky coal miner works 14-hour days to bring affordable energy to the state and the country. He knows because he works just as hard himself,” Senator McConnell said. “If you are truly interested in listening to the people whose way of life you will affect the most, you need to listen to Brian’s voice of wisdom and experience.”

Brian Patton applauded McConnell for advocating for Kentucky coal and reiterated the Senator’s invitation to the EPA to hold an additional listening session in Pikeville. Patton stated. “Where I work in Eastern Kentucky is currently facing a depression. The EPA needs to come to coal country where they can hear from the thousands of Kentucky families that will be negatively impacted by any further regulations on coal and coal-dependent industries.”

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