Lawmakers in Kentucky are threatening to give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the boot with a largely symbolic measure complaining the agency is over-regulating the state's coal industry.
Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chairman Brandon Smith said Wednesday the EPA has put Kentucky's economic security and thousands of jobs at risk.
Smith, a Republican from the coalfield town of Hazard, is sponsoring a resolution that would declare Kentucky a "sanctuary state" out of reach of the EPA. He said the intent is to send a clear message to the Obama administration that the EPA needs to stop penalizing an industry that employs some 18,000 Kentuckians.
The initial vote on what appears to be a popular but unenforceable resolution is set for Thursday morning.
"I'm not foolish enough to believe we are going to make them do anything," Smith told The Associated Press. "But we have to get back to where we feel like they're not the enemy, that they're not trying to shut us down."
Republicans from Kentucky's congressional delegation are also involved in a wider national campaign attacking the authority of the EPA.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., is chairman of the subcommittee on energy and power and is sponsoring a draft bill that would block the EPA from using the law to control heat-trapping pollution. Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., proposed a sweeping $1.9 billion cut — about 18 percent — to the amount of money requested for EPA this year by President Barack Obama.
Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett said the mining industry hopes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson won't ignore the state resolution as a blank threat but listen to what is a serious concern in the state.
"It's a message about protecting Kentucky jobs and our economy from appointed bureaucrats in Washington D.C.," Bissett said.