EPA recognizes Kentucky energy efficiency, but still takes unilateral action

This past week, the Environmental Protection Agency named Kentucky’s state government, the Kentucky Housing Corporation, and the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center 2012 Energy Star Partners of the Year. The EPA recognized Kentucky for its “outstanding contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by delivering information and services to Kentuckians to increase energy efficiency,” in large part due to Governor Steve Beshear’s seven-point energy plan.

This seems to be good news for Kentuckians, but the fact that a federal agency like the EPA issued such an award should raise a very important question. If Kentucky is doing such a good job delivering information and services to Kentuckians that increase energy efficiency, then why is it necessary for the EPA to play such an overbearing roll in the Kentucky coal industry?

The EPA has specifically targeted Appalachian coal mining in its bid to enact sweeping changes to Kentucky’s $5.3 billion coal industry that presently employs over 18,000 miners – but Kentucky officials have not sat idly by. The commonwealth is presently involved in multiple suits against the EPA. For example, in 2010 Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Coal Association brought charges against the EPA for blocking 11 water permits approved by the commonwealth. But if the EPA recognizes Kentucky as one of its Energy Start Partners of the Year, you’d think even the EPA would admit that such encroachments on state sovereignty would be wholly unjustified.

So EPA, which is it? Is Kentucky truly an Energy Star Partner capable of monitoring its own energy standards, or must the federal nanny state watch over the commonwealth’s every energy move through unilateral EPA action?