Winter Storm Watch in effect from Wednesday, 6:00 AM CST until Thursday, 6:00 AM CST. Source: U.S. National Weather Service

jgooch 300UPDATE: FRANKFORT, Ky. (3/17/14) — A bill that would give Kentucky more input into what works best for fossil fuel power plants within the state has passed the state House, the state Senate and is waiting for Gov. Steve Beshear's signature.

According to state Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, HB 388 would include the state legislature in planning the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric plants under federal Environmental Protection Agency rules.

“We were concerned here in Kentucky that our federal government EPA is trying to make decisions for us about what our energy choices are and what our energy needs are, and that shouldn't be done from Washington,” said Gooch, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Kentucky has been very prudent in using what is available. Coal is our most abundant, reliable and most affordable source for (generating) electricity. We have the second lowest electric utility rates in the nation. Because of that, we've built a very good manufacturing economy that employs a lot of Kentuckians.”

The bill addresses part of an EPA proposal that would apply to only new fossil fuel fired generating units. That rule would require that coal fired units implement carbon capture and carbon storage for a portion of its emissions.

But also, and very importantly, HB 388 would require the state Energy and Environment Cabinet to create a plan for existing coal-fired plants that doesn't force them to switch from coal to other fuels such as natural gas or to require them to capture and store carbon, which is an emission from the coal-burning process.

The Clean Air Act allows states to develop its own plans for emission limits on exisiting pollution sources. However, the EPA must approve the state's plan.

“President Obama has said that he wants the EPA to work with the states on this,” said Gooch.

The process of capturing carbon could use as much as 25 percent of the electricity created by a fossil fuel plant, said Gooch, who is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment. That could drive up electricity utility rates beyond what many Kentucky families can afford to pay.

Not only would homeowner utility bills and direct and indirect coal mining jobs be affected, but also the state's manufacturing capabilities, he said.

“People that are in Louisville and Lexington might look at this as an issue that is affecting the coal mining jobs and it's not just that,” said Gooch. “Kentucky is probably the most energy intensive state in the nation. In Kentucky, an average of about 49 percent of our electricity goes to our large industrial customers. The national average is more like 22 to 27 percent. That shows how important that is for those manufacturing jobs.”

Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett said proposed EPA standards would make it hard for any plant to burn coal.

“I think it's important to realize that Kentucky has the second lowest kilowatt per hour (cost) in the nation,” said Bissett. “(Changes) are going to have a tremendous effect on employers and all Kentuckians in how we pay for that electric bill every month.”

Bissett said the federal time table for these EPA changes to go into effect is on a fast track before President Barack Obama goes out of office.

“House Bill 388 clearly defines Kentucky's role in this process,” said Bissett. “This bill clearly states the General Assembly's involvement and that representative leaders like Chairman Gooch have to approve any plan which involves the state. This House Bill is supported by a number of local, state and federal groups. Some are related to the coal industry, and others aren't. Others represent other businesses concerned about changes in Washington affecting what we pay for electricity in Kentucky and putting us at an economic disadvantage.”

Other than the Kentucky Coal Association, other agencies and organizations that have supported HB 388 include the Kentucky Chamber, Kentucky Municipal Utilities Association, Alliance Resource Partners, Alpha Natural Resources, ArchCoal, Charah, Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Crounse Corp., CSX, kyndle, Paducah Chamber of Commerce, Peabody Energy, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Murray Energy Corporation, Western Kentucky Coal Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

MJCC Takes on the Penguins Plunge

MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (3/2/15) — On Feb. 28, staff and students of the Muhlenberg Job Corps Center participated in the… Read More

Greenville Police Department Reports Released; Greenville Woman Charged with Making Meth

GREENVILLE, Ky. (3/2/15) — The Greenville Police Department released the following reports Monday, March 2. Derek… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 02, 2015 8194

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 7791

Multi-Agency Investigation Nets Large-Scale Meth…

in Top News For All Sites by Trooper Stu Recke
February 24, 2015 7578

Two Charged in Central City Meth Bust

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
February 22, 2015 7422

Easter Cuties Pageant in Memory of Shanice Bean

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
February 25, 2015 6204

New Asian Restaurant Coming to Madisonville

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
February 23, 2015 5399

Fire Departments Respond to Wester's Body Shop

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Shawn Freels

Most Read This Month

February 12, 2015

UPDATE: Name of Pennyrile Fatality Officially…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
February 09, 2015

Police Pursue Man after Fight at Taco Bell

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Today

March 02, 2015 8194

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
March 02, 2015 2946

HCSO, MPD Join to Bust Alleged Drug Trafficking…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
March 02, 2015 2198

Officers Respond to Complaint of Drug Use; Arrest…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office/Hopkins County Detention Center
March 02, 2015 1696

Job Fair Tomorrow in Madisonville

in Hopkins News by Kentucky Career Center
March 02, 2015 1568

UPDATE: Escapee Apprehended

in Top News For All Sites by Stu Recke
March 02, 2015 1447

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 2, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
March 02, 2015 1301

Locals Flock to Yoga for Unique Wellness Technique

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 02, 2015 1216

Dawson Springs Man Charged Multiple Offenses Plus…

in Hopkins News by Melissa Heflin
March 02, 2015 1107

Greenville Police Department Reports Released;…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Wes Miller
March 03, 2015 1066

Three Arrested during Traffic Stop

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center