U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul introduced legislation Thursday to protect Kentucky's coal miners from an overreaching Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its war on coal. Coal is a vital sector of Kentucky's economy. More than 200,000 jobs in the state depend on it, including the jobs of approximately 18,000 coal miners, and half the country's electricity comes from coal.
Senators McConnell, Paul and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced the Mining Jobs Protection Act in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would tell the EPA to "use it or lose it" when deciding whether to invoke its veto authority of a 404 permit within a reasonable time frame, giving permit applicants the certainty they need to do business. Mines are required to obtain 404 permits from the EPA to operate.
The bill would ensure that all 404 permits move forward to be either approved or rejected, so applicants aren't left in limbo unsure how to act. The bill also ensures that the EPA cannot use its veto retroactively.
"The EPA has turned the permitting process, which is already cumbersome, into a back-door means of shutting down coal mines," Senator McConnell said. "The thousands of Kentuckians who work in coal mining or have jobs that are dependent on it are in jeopardy. Other industries besides coal are at risk, too: I've heard from farmers, realtors, the transportation industry and others who also need permits from the EPA to continue their business. Our legislation ensures that what the EPA did in West Virginia will not happen in Kentucky. Attacking an industry so important to Kentucky would put people out of work, impede job growth, and increase energy prices."
"The out-of-control EPA is already costing the people of Kentucky jobs and their war on coal could cost us even more," Senator Paul said. "President Obama is on record saying he wants to "bankrupt' the coal industry, that's why Senator McConnell and I are working to end this abuse by the EPA, and stop the Obama administration from killing jobs in Kentucky and other coal-producing states by trying to regulate away our means to make a living and drive up our electric bills."
The McConnell/Paul legislation will be referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for consideration.