What the Kentucky legislature can do -- and can't -- in response to new EPA rules

06/05/2014 06:00 PM

Both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers said Kentucky should challenge the new EPA rules aimed at emissions from coal fired power plants.

Attorney General Jack Conway is reviewing the proposed rules, which if implemented in the next year would call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2030. Conway could potentially challenge them with a lawsuit as he did with mine permitting regulations.

Stumbo, who served as attorney general from 2003-2007, said Thursday that if he were still in that role, he would have delivered the lawsuit to the courthouse already.

But Stumbo said other than that, he’s not sure what else Kentucky leaders can do to respond to the regulations — or help Kentucky meet those standards.

“Barring succession from the union, I’d say there’s not a whole lot we can do. The problem’s got to be fixed in Washington,” Stumbo said.

Both Stumbo and Stivers questioned whether emissions from coal-fired power plants, particularly carbon dioxide, contribute to climate change. Stumbo said regulations shouldn’t be based on “fiction or … gooey, gooey stuff.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has highlighted his opposition to the coal regulations as part of his campaign for a sixth term. But Stumbo sought to undermine McConnell’s argument.

“He reminds me of the coward who walks into the bar, starts a fight and runs out the back door. What do you think you’re going to get when you run up and punch the president in the eye? That’s what he did,” Stumbo said. (4:15)

Stivers, the Republican Senate president, said the legislature could play a role in helping the electricity companies make some strides.

“We will have to look at options to potentially do some incentives to where the scrubbers are more clean and more efficient … if this isn’t overturned,” Stivers said. “There will be certain things we will have to do to make sure there are financial incentives. If not, I think, then I think our coal industry will be imperiled.”

Stivers also addressed questions about decreasing electricity demand (1:15 of the interview below) and whether it’s time to lift the moratorium on nuclear power plants (1:45).

Overall, Stivers said Kentucky leaders should try to fight the proposed new rules but implement policies to try to meet the standards if Kentucky is “forced” to comply (5:00)

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