FRANKFORT, Ky. (6/15/13) – The following is an Opinion Editorial from U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield and Kentucky State Representative Jim Gooch concerning the coal protest issues currently ongoing.
Coal mining has been a way of life in Kentucky for over two centuries. Because of our hardworking miners, we have the fifth lowest electricity costs in the country. The price of electricity in Kentucky has also remained far below the national average for over two decades.
That is why we are frustrated with an anti-coal group, who recently announced they will be organizing a protest against the Kentucky coal industry on June 20th in Louisville. This environmental group claims that coal mining is hurting our communities, minority and low-income neighborhoods. We take exception to these false claims on behalf of the thousands of miners who work hard every day to keep electricity rates affordable for all Kentuckians.
It is also our understanding that the Sierra Club is helping to organize this anti-coal protest. We have concern over their financial ties to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently gave $50 million to the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign aimed at closing down one third of our country’s coal-fired power plants by 2020. Mayor Bloomberg was quoted as saying, “Even though the coal industry doesn’t totally know it yet or is ready to admit it, its day is done. … Here in the U.S., I’m happy to say, the king is dead. Coal is a dead man walking.”
Not on our watch.
Unfortunately, one of the main culprits for all of the misinformation out there about coal is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their liberal agenda. The reality is that President Obama has launched an all-out assault on the coal industry.
If the President and EPA had their way, they would shut down every coal-fired power plant in America. This position is out-of-step with the world’s economy, especially as coal-generated electricity is increasing in nearly every other country in the world, including China, India and Germany. Their anti-coal position would lead to higher electricity prices on the Kentucky families that these protesters claim to be protecting. In fact, numerous reports have found that low income families and minority communities are more vulnerable to the rate hikes that would result from EPA’s anti-coal agenda.
If Kentucky, which generates 92 percent of its electricity through coal-fired power plants, is forced to shut down these plants, what would happen to electricity costs? A basic understanding of economics tells us that electricity costs would skyrocket due to a drastic decrease in supply. The sad reality is that President Obama and EPA have already put this trend in motion by creating unrealistic regulations on the coal industry.
For example, EPA recently announced new greenhouse gas emissions standards that, once enacted, will make it impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in America because the technology does not yet exist to meet EPA’s regulations. We would be the only country in the world in which you would not be able to build a coal-fired power plant to generate electricity. We also suspect that once EPA enforces these new rules on new power plants, they will then be targeting existing coal-fired power plants like the ones here in Kentucky.
EPA has also enacted overreaching standards as part of the review process for mining permits. Then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson even admitted that “no or very few valley fills are going to be able to meet this standard.”
The sad thing about this process is that all of these standards to eliminate the mining and use of coal are being proposed by regulators without any public debate by Congress. This is a decision that should be made with more public input by our elected leaders, not by a group of regulators at EPA who determine that they want to put coal out of business.
It is clear that President Obama’s overzealous EPA has drawn a clear line in the sand in their assault on coal. So, ahead of the misguided protest in Louisville, we want to assure the 14,000-plus coal miners in Kentucky that we stand with them.
And we always will.
-Representative Ed Whitfield & Representative Jim Gooch
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