Bipartisan support for Kentucky coal ‘sanctuary’

Kentucky makes national headlines in an important states’ rights issue as legislators attempt to declare the commonwealth’s coal industry exempt from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Yesterday, Senate Joint Resolution 99 moved out of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee to debate on the Senate Floor. The bill passed out of committee with unanimous support.

“As the overreaching EPA impact settles in on us,” resolution sponsor Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, remarked, “it’s costing us jobs, it’s putting us in a very perilous situation.”

Yesterday in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, House Bill 421, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, also cleared committee without a single “no” vote. The bill would exempt Kentucky coal mines from federal Clean Water Act requirements.

Rep. Gooch remarked, “We feel that the federal government does lack some of the authority to regulate everything that we do.”

Even if the measures pass, bill sponsors acknowledge they are unlikely to force the EPA to stop its regulation of coal. Despite that, legislators on both sides of the aisle see this as a symbolic opportunity to fight back against federal over-involvement in the commonwealth.

Rep. Keith Hall, D- Phelps, commented, “There comes a time when we as leaders and we as legislators have to push back.”