WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S Sen. Rand Paul added more fuel to the fire of criticism aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday, releasing a statement chastising the federal agency for its practices.
Due to the Senate voting schedule, Sen. Rand Paul said he would be unable to attend Tuesday’s hearing concerning coal mining permits in Frankfort. Paul issued a statement by proxy to be entered into the record of the Senate.
“These hearings are long overdue. As you know, the state of Kentucky has been requesting hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency’s permit objections since December 2010. It has taken EPA nearly two years to respond to their legal obligation to do so. In the meantime, jobs were lost, severance taxes went unpaid, and, according to the Energy Information System, coal production in Eastern Kentucky dropped by 1.5 percent,” Paul said in the statement.
Paul says the denial of the permits is an attempt by the Obama administration and the EPA to stifle the coal industry of Kentucky. “Under the Obama Administration, the coal industry has been subject to ‘regulation by ambush’ on multiple fronts.”
Paul estimates that the objections to 19 of the 36 permits will cost 3,800 coal related jobs and more than $123 million in coal severance taxes.
“It is time for these practices to end, and these policies to stop. The Clean Water Act and the major mining statute, the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act, have strong federalism components that allow states to take the lead over permitting and enforcement.” says Paul. “The EPA needs to honor the intent of the statute and allow Kentucky to exert its primacy authority over these 36 permits.”
Kentucky’s other senator and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also had strong words for the administration Tuesday taking to the floor to state that the coal producing community of Kentucky is under attack by the EPA.
“Like most of the country, Kentucky is suffering from very difficult economic times,” McConnell said. “Far too many Kentuckians are unemployed and the prospect for future employment remains daunting. That’s why it is especially irritating that this administration has blindly followed ideological policies that eliminate jobs in our communities. The people of Kentucky are amongst the hardest-working people on the planet but how can we be expected to compete if our own government is working against us?”
Sen. Paul acknowledged the second meeting Thursday in Pikeville, but was noncommittal on whether or not he would attend those hearings.