Kentucky House Bill 167, recently introduced to the General Assembly, mirrors the attempts of the Environmental Protection Agency to force unproven energy sources and onerous emission mandates on the commonwealth. The problem, of course, is not the attempt to maintain the benefits of clean air and water in Kentucky. The problem is the disregard for the costs entailed by such sweeping regulations.
Kentucky is currently third in the nation in coal production. Because of Kentucky coal, 18,000 miners are presently employed at starting salaries ranging from $65,000 to $70,000, and three more jobs exist in the industry for each coal mining job on the books. Because of Kentucky’s ample coal reserves, Kentuckians have enjoyed some of the lowest energy prices in the country, and these low prices have attracted businesses from the steel and aluminum industries to auto manufacturers. Because of Kentucky coal, 30% of US steel and aluminum is produced in the Bluegrass State. State legislation such as HB 167 and the unilateral mandates of the EPA threaten to crush this sort of prosperity by forcing a sweeping move to unproven energy alternatives.
If passed, HB 167 would mandate Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS) that require 12.5% of retail energy sales be provided from renewable sources by 2022. However, a study recently released by the Manhattan Institute has found that states forcing such REPS have significantly higher energy prices:
“Residential electricity prices in states with renewable-electricity mandates were 31.9 percent higher than in non-mandate states. Commercial electricity rates were 27.4 percent higher, and industrial rates were 30.7 percent higher. Of the ten states with the highest electricity prices, eight have renewable mandates. Of the ten states with the lowest electricity prices, only two have RPS mandates.”
So the question remains – what exactly is the economical alternative if Kentucky legislators pass HB 167 and abandon the low energy prices that have attracted so many businesses and so many jobs to the commonwealth?
HB 167 is currently under review in the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee.