Despite going 0 for 3 at defending its tyrannical mandates in court in recent weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to strike at the sovereignty of Kentucky’s energy sector once again.
Yesterday, in a move that is likely to forever destroy the possibility of establishing new coal-fired power plants in Appalachia, the EPA unilaterally ordered unprecedented limits to greenhouse-gas emissions by requiring new plants to capture and store carbon emissions, a process that has by no means been proven economically sustainable in the coal industry.
Such a move will significantly impact Kentucky, a state that relies on coal for well over 90% of its electricity needs, 18,000 miner jobs, three additional industry jobs for each miner, and the potential for thousands of new jobs created through the establishment of new mines. In short, the black rock is Kentucky’s most prized natural resource, and its economic vitality is being snuffed out by the EPA.
Because of its mandates, the EPA predicts that by 2035 coal will generate 16% less of the nation’s electricity than today. The US Department of Energy estimates that Appalachian coal production will fall from 175 million to 77 million tons by 2020. And the Kentucky severance tax – generated directly from coal mining – will fall 41% between 2015 and 2035.
Now is the time for Kentuckians to very seriously consider this question – which group is better equipped to balance the costs and benefits of Kentucky’s most prized natural resource: the directly affected local citizens and legislators in the Commonwealth, or the far and away bureaucrats at the EPA with no conception of the economic advantages of coal in the Bluegrass State?