McConnell releases ad as E. Ky. newspaper reports on his opposition to coal plant's location in Louisville

10/01/2014 10:21 AM

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign released an ad touting his support for coal miners Wednesday, the same day an eastern Kentucky newspaper reported his opposition to a proposed coal processing plan on the Louisville riverfront during his time as Jefferson County judge-executive.

Chris Sexton, the star of McConnell’s latest ad, credited a $7.5 million program backed by McConnell with helping him become a paramedic after he was laid off as a coal miner.

“It was my lifelong dream to be a paramedic and help my community, and thanks to Mitch McConnell, I’m getting the training I need to fulfill that dream,” Sexton said over shots of him driving an ambulance.

The ad, scheduled to run statewide, can be seen here:

The timing of McConnell’s ad coincides with a report by the Hazard Herald, which raises McConnell’s resistance to a coal processing plant along the Louisville riverfront in 1984. The project, a joint effort between Louisiana Dock and Convenient Energy, was originally planned to build a coal-crushing plant and take coal from barges on an Ohio River dock, and it was later approved to be built in the Riverport area instead of along the riverfront, according to the report.

McConnell urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the environmental and community impact of the operation.

Larry Cox, then Jefferson County’s secretary of environmental policy and later a state director in McConnell’s Senate office, told the newspaper that revitalization of Louisville’s riverfront was more at issue than combating a proposed coal plant.

“I didn’t remember it being particularly against coal per se, but against the expansion of industrial development at that site,” Cox said in the report.

Allison Moore, McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman, echoed those comments in a statement to the Hazard Herald.

“The inference that a lifetime coal supporter didn’t support this development because of coal is beyond absurd, especially since Senator McConnell even offered to help secure federal grants to help them build the facility at a different location,” she said.

But those assertations didn’t stop Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign from tagging her opponent as anti-coal.

“McConnell has the distinct honor of being the only candidate in the race to personally try to kill a Kentucky coal plant,” Grimes campaign spokesman Preston Maddock said in the report. “Given McConnell’s appalling record in Washington, it’s clear that Mitch McConnell’s millionaires and billionaires are trying to mislead Kentuckians.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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