Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 6:14 am
The coal industry made its presence known in Pittsburgh this week for public hearings on President Obama's controversial plan to address climate change. A key element is rules the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June. They would cut greenhouse gas emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide — from existing power plants. The national goal is 30 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings this week across the country to collect public comments on its proposed regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation gathered Wednesday to address what they call a “war on coal.”
The EPA’s proposed regulation would require Kentucky to cut 18 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions, though it leaves how those cuts are made up to the state. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attended what he called a “sham hearing” to voice his objections with the rule to EPA representatives, and then hosted a press conference with other congressional members from coal producing states.
"This isn’t about regulations written in some dungeon up in Washington. This is about thousands of people who have lost their jobs," exclaimed U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Republican U.S. Representative Hal Rogers will campaign with Senator Mitch McConnell next week in eastern Kentucky.
Rogers will join McConnell on a two day, 10 county bus tour Aug. 7 and 8 through Kentucky's coal country. McConnell is running for re-election against Democrat challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in a race that has focused largely on coal-related issues.
McConnell's bus tour will come one day after former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to campaign with Grimes in eastern Kentucky.
Grimes and McConnell are locked in one of the closest Senate races in the country. The winner could help determine which party controls the Senate. Democrats have an eight-seat margin in the Senate. Republicans control the House of Representatives.
Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 10:32 am
Kentucky has long been known for coal. But a new project unveiled today has the potential to let the commonwealth also be known for coal technology.
A bevy of scientists and elected officials are in Harrodsburg this morning to cut the ribbon on a new carbon capture pilot project. The project was developed by scientists at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research, and is being installed at Kentucky Utilities’ E.W. Brown power plant.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority over its plans to shut down two coal-fired units at its plant in Muhlenberg County.
The suit brought by a group of landowners and the Kentucky Coal Association argues the TVA didn’t perform a proper environmental impact statement before it decided to close the units at the Paradise Fossil Plant, and replace them with a natural gas unit scheduled to begin operations in 2017.
Meanwhile, ground continues to be cleared for the project. Speaking to reporters in June at the Paradise plant in Drakesboro, TVA transition manager Billy Sabin said the excavation stage should be completed within three months.
“That’s expected to complete sometime around the September timeframe. When that is complete, we’ll be working on getting our permits in place, and starting actual construction the end of this year to the first of next year.”
A TVA spokesman says officials are reviewing the lawsuit and will respond appropriately. The federally-owned corporation says reducing the number of coal-burning units at its Muhlenberg County plant from three to one will cut its coal reliance at the facility by half.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says proposed federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants provide the state with some “flexibility” in meeting government targets.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this month that the nation must reduce carbon emissions created by burning coal by 30 percent.
“I am glad that the EPA recognized that states need flexibility. We tried to make that point with them over and over again as they developed this rule,” said Beshear. “What I’m concerned about is they, I’m not sure they’ve given us as much flexibility as we need.”
An analysis by Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance research arm found that Kentucky could actually be able to increase its carbon emissions up to 4 percent under the EPA rules.
“We all want a clean environment, and I think we all share that goal. It’s a difference in balance and how we phase in those standards and how we can reach them, and at the same time keep coal jobs in the coal fields and keep manufacturing jobs in Kentucky,” said Beshear.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes did not mention coal in a speech at a Washington fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to a recording obtained by Politico.
Grimes' campaign said last week she planned to use the event to demand the Senate take action to invest in clean coal technology. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign criticized Grimes for not mentioning coal and questioned her commitment to the state's coal industry.
Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said Grimes did not break her promise because she spoke to Reid privately about the issue. Reid said in a statement that Grimes has spoken with him many times about her opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's new emission standards for coal-fired power plants.
The man who will help lead Kentucky’s effort to meet new air pollution standards says his office will stay above the political battle surrounding the issue.
Kentucky’s assistant secretary for climate policy, John Lyons, faces the unenviable task of combing through 1,400 pages of material that spell out the new federal carbon emissions rules announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. The regulations have been denounced this week by both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates as well as business leaders who predict doom for the state’s coal industry and overall economy.
Lyons, whose office is part of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, told WKU Public Radio that new federal air quality rules have been impacting the state’s energy policies for several years.
“This is the only latest in a string of environmental regulations that we have to evaluate. Of course, the politics play into that, and those things are what they are. But this Cabinet has to assess those rule-makings, and how best to adopt them—or challenge them in some cases, which is not unprecedented. We’ve challenged rules before, and likely will again at some point.”
While the new EPA standards call for a 30 percent reduction in the nation’s carbon emissions by 2030, Kentucky’s specific goal is a cut of 18.3 percent.
Kentucky’s two top-ranking lawmakers have some choice words about new coal emissions regulations announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo are slamming the proposed rules, which will cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by the year 2030. .
“You can’t formulate energy policy for a growing country like ours, if you’re not going to consider, as part of that solution, your most abundant resource," Stumbo said. "It doesn’t make any sense at all, it’s a dumbass thing to do, and you can quote me on that.”
Stumbo added that he didn’t think that the rules will affect the outcome of the November House elections, where Democrats hope to retain a narrow majority over Republicans.
The regulations are subject to public input and will be officially enacted a year from now.