Earlier this week, Jim Waters, President of the Bluegrass Institute, “tackled” Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, on the issue of the Intrastate Coal and Use Act.
The event was hosted by TACKLE with TAC4, a group which encourages participants to tackle the issues, not each other – and in true fashion, both participants tackled the issues of Kentucky’s energy sector and federal overreach from the EPA.
Waters argued in favor of the Intrastate Coal and Use Act – a piece of model legislation sponsored by the Bluegrass Institute which would ensure that any coal mined, sold, and used exclusively within the borders of the commonwealth would be regulated exclusively by the commonwealth, not the EPA – on three fronts.
First, Waters argued that the EPA has proven ineffective and inefficient in weighing the costs and benefits of Kentucky’s energy sector, as shown by one of the EPA’s newest mandates, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. According to the EPA’s own estimates, the rule would provide Kentucky with direct environmental and health benefits of $6.2 million. The only catch is that the rule comes with a price tag of $10 billion annually. That’s not even to mention the dozens of mining permits languishing in limbo because of EPA inaction.
Second, Waters argued that the commonwealth has proven it can responsibly regulate its own energy sector and environment, putting the proper weight on the costs and benefits of energy-intensive industry. In fact, since 1990, Kentucky has reduced its SO2 and NOx emissions by 75 percent. What’s more, since 2008, SO2 emissions are down by 28 percent and NOx emissions are down by nearly 50 percent, demonstrating that the air Kentuckians breathe is actually getting cleaner at an accelerating rate. Gov. Beshear’s 7 point energy plan released in 2008 is largely responsible, not our federal masters at the EPA.
Finally, Waters argued the Intrastate Coal and Use Act is the proper constitutional response to the EPA’s dramatic overreach. An agency which has shown no respect for Kentucky’s rights under the 9th and 10th Amendments, and which has also compared targeting Kentucky’s energy sector to the ancient Romans sacking dissenting tribes, must be reigned in with tools forged with constitutional muster.
And this coal act is just such the tool.