Fighting for Ky. jobs


For years, the Obama administration and its overzealous bureaucratic regulators at the EPA have waged a war against Kentucky coal jobs, miners, and their families. And I’ve vowed to do all I can to stop them. I’m pleased to report that recently the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, took an important step towards using Congress’s power of the purse to rein in the agency on several fronts, efforts that should help those not only in the coal industry but also farmers and Kentucky job creators.

Earlier this year, I joined the subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee responsible for funding the EPA. I joined this subcommittee specifically to be in a position to oversee the EPA’s budget and to protect Kentucky jobs. As a member of this subcommittee, I was able to secure a number of policy provisions in this EPA funding bill that passed out of committee, provisions that seek to scale back the overreach of the EPA.

One of the most egregious of the EPA’s assaults on Kentucky is the agency’s attempt to impose a so-called “Clean Power Plan” that would have a dramatic impact on existing coal-fired power plants. For example, here in Kentucky, abiding by this regulation would mean closing power plants, cutting more jobs and increasing the cost of electricity for families and job creators across the state.

This plan would shrink our state’s economy by almost $2 billion and raise electricity rates by double digits. And it would reduce the affordable, plentiful energy we get from coal, which is critical to industries throughout Kentucky.

Because of the detrimental impact this regulation could have on Kentucky and other states, not to mention the question of whether this regulation is even within the EPA’s legal authority, I wrote a letter to every governor in the country urging caution, for the sake of their constituents and their state’s economies, before complying with the EPA’s request for state implementation plans.

Well, the provisions I included in the bill that passed the Appropriations Committee would guarantee that governors who heeded my warning would be protected. If enacted, the measure I secured would restrict the EPA from using its funding to force states to submit an implementation plan. Kentucky’s next governor, no matter who wins the election, could forego compliance with this regulation without fear of retaliation from the agency.

The Interior Appropriations bill contains provisions to halt other burdensome EPA regulations that would hurt Kentucky, too. For some time, I’ve spoken in opposition to an Obama administration regulation known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule that would classify nearly all wetlands in the state — potentially small ponds and ditches — as “navigable” waters, and thus subject them to interference by Washington bureaucrats. Such a regulation would wreak havoc on many industries across Kentucky, especially agriculture, and trample on Kentuckians’ private property rights. The bill language I secured would prohibit funding for the EPA to implement this onerous regulation.

I also inserted language in the bill to prevent funding for a new ozone rule that would have a serious detrimental effect on jobs and electricity prices until certain thresholds are met. The language would prohibit the EPA from regulating a standard for ozone or “smog” levels until at least 85 percent of counties nationwide that are not currently complying are able to do so.

Furthermore, this bill, as written, would also prohibit the EPA from enforcing a mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system for manure management systems; it would prohibit the agency from promulgating any regulation to limit livestock emissions; and it expresses the committee’s concerns with the Department of Interior rewriting the Stream Buffer Zone rule. I also worked with the subcommittee to reduce funding for the EPA’s core regulatory function by 10 percent to slow the agency’s work on harmful regulations like these.

This bill makes it clear to the EPA that Congress is prepared to try to rein in the agency’s regulatory overreach, and passing the measure out of the Appropriations Committee was an important first step. However, much work still remains to be done before the provisions become law. The bill, as written, needs to pass the Senate, and President Obama must sign it.

Congress must do its best through the power of the purse to hold the line against the bureaucratic and regulatory menace the EPA has become, at least until America elects a new president who is more sympathetic to the needs of Kentucky’s coal families, farmers and small-business owners. I can assure you, I will not stand idly by while this administration tries to wipe out the lifeblood of our state’s economy.

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