FRANKFORT - Environmental groups again find themselves on the opposite side from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear over how to regulate coal-fired power plants. Beshear wants the EPA to reconsider regulations that would force the plants to adhere to the same emission standards as plants that burn natural gas or oil. The governor has claimed that those limits would “effectively ban” new coal-fired power plants.
Wallace McMullen, Cumberland Sierra Club energy chair, called Beshear’s stance “short-sighted.”
“We need a quick move to clean energy and a rapid reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases if people are going to have a chance of anything like a normal life in the future,” McMullen warned.
The governor is “pandering” to the coal industry, he added.
In a two-page letter to the EPA acting administrator, Beshear called for an alternative approach that would allow coal to be used in what he called “an affordable and practical manner.” The governor claimed that the new emission standards would put Kentucky at “a distinct economic disadvantage.”
It’s an argument McMullen does not buy.
“Kentucky has chained itself to a millstone around its economic neck by its over-weighted dependence on coal,” McMullen said.
Sarah Lynn Cunningham, Louisville Climate Action Network, said the governor is asking for a playing field that is not level.
“This idea that we need to give a break to the coal industry at the expense of public health in order to maintain affordability is just not correct,” Cunningham said.
The public interest should trump special interests, she added.