Elaine Chao has resigned from the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies as the foundation revs up its commitment to its clean energy initiative.
Chao was Secretary of Labor in President George W. Bush’s cabinet and is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She stepped down from the board Wednesday after the philanthropic group announced $48 million in clean energy grants.
The Obama administration has set the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity. The regulation treats it more like household garbage rather than a hazardous material.
Environmentalists had pushed for the hazardous classification, citing the hundreds of cases nationwide where coal ash waste had tainted waters. The coal industry wanted the less stringent classification.
The rule issued Friday ends a six-year effort that began after a massive spill at a power plant in Tennessee.
The EPA said that the regulation addresses the risks posed by coal ash sites and that the record did not support a hazardous classification.
The rule does not require all sites failing to meet the standards to close. Sites at shuttered power plants also are not covered.
Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 8:21 am
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Jack Blankenship was pinned facedown in the dirt, his neck, shoulder and back throbbing with pain.
He was alone on an errand, in a dark tunnel a mile underground at the Aracoma Alma coal mine in Logan County, W.Va., when a 300-pound slab of rock peeled away from the roof and slammed him to the ground. As his legs grew numb, he managed to free an arm and reach his radio. For two hours, he pressed the panic button that was supposed to bring help quickly.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has made no secret of his plans should he win re-election next month and should he become Senate Majority Leader.
The latter will happen if McConnell defeats Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republicans win a net of six Senate seats in November. McConnell has told audiences and reporters that, if he became Senate Majority Leader, he would seek to defeat President Obama’s legislative agenda by adding language to spending bills that would strip funding from projects the President supports.
In an interview with WKU Public Radio Wednesday, McConnell was asked specifically which programs he would seek to defund.
WKU Public Radio: What specific programs or initiatives would you seek to block if you were to become Senate Majority Leader?
Sen. Mitch McConnell: Well, my first choice, obviously, is to see what the President is willing to do with us. We need to do comprehensive tax reform. It’s been 30 years since we scrubbed the code. The President says he wants to do trade agreements. That’s a big winner for Kentucky agriculture. So I think you would anticipate kind of a mix of things, hopefully working on things we can agree on together.
But there are some things we would differ on. The initiatives that the President has carried out through the regulatory side have been quite burdensome to the economy. And we would indeed seek to reign in the regulators, and a good example of that is the war on coal, which has created a depression in eastern Kentucky.
State lawmakers were once again briefed Friday about the effects of proposed federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters told an energy subcommittee in Frankfort that if the changes cause utility companies to increase their rates high enough, the state’s economy could suffer.
“I think the rate increases that are being talked about right now probably on the side it’s five percent," said Peters. "It could be as much as 25 percent. And if it gets into the 25 percent range, we have done some separate studies that clearly show that has a major impact on our manufacturing industry.”
Under the proposed guidelines, Kentucky will have to reduce its CO2 emissions by about 18 percent by the year 2030.
A trade group representing Kentucky's coal industry is defended Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell after a published report that his wife is a board member of an organization that has spent $50 million to close coal-fired power plants.
Yahoo! News reported Friday that Elaine Chao sits on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Former New York Mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg founded the charity.
The Kentucky Coal Association says Bloomberg's contribution was made before Chao joined the board in April 2012.
The eastern Kentucky coalfields have lost 7,000 coal-related jobs since January 2012. That's an issue at the center of McConnell's re-election bid against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The Kentucky Coal Association says McConnell has done everything possible to protect the coal industry.