As chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, the well-being of the Kentucky coal industry continues to be one of my top priorities. There is no doubt that Kentucky coal has endured a difficult stretch over the past decade, particularly in Eastern Kentucky. Since 2011, the region has lost over 10,000 coal industry jobs as a result of government regulations and the emergence of alternative energy sources.
President Trump has stated on numerous occasions that one of his goals while occupying the White House is to put miners back to work. This is why I applaud the news out of Washington this past week. It sounds like we’re finally heading in the right direction.
Andrew Wheeler, acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, announced Tuesday that the agency would be rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and replacing it with the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule. Wheeler explained that the EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Power Plan, and the new proposal would place emissions standards back in the hands of the states. He additionally asserted that the previous regulations caused energy prices to rise, hurting middle and lower class families. Under the new guidelines, electricity costs could drop by as much as a half percent by 2025.
With Washington adopting rules that are less oppressive to Kentucky’s coal industry, the industry now has an opportunity to rebound. For instance, Perry County Coal Corporation recently announced that it is planning to add 25 employees to its operation. Along with the announcement, the company made note that this decision was based in part on the fact that changing attitudes in Washington are becoming friendlier to the coal industry.
I understand that in a modern society it is unsustainable to rely on one source of energy to power our daily lives. We should be investing in various forms of energy options and certainly not attempting to put government roadblocks up for one industry. Coal is the lifeblood for numerous communities in the Commonwealth, and vital to making our state a competitive place to do business. That is why we in Frankfort and our leaders in Washington D.C. must continue to capitalize on the good news of last week and finally end attacks on this valued Kentucky resource.
If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at [email protected]. You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.