Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

June 7, 2013

Bad for Kentucky

Beshear to EPA: Proposal would ban new coal plants

ASHLAND — President Barack Obama and Gov. Steve Beshear may both be elected Democrats, but when it comes to performing his duties as the chief executive of Kentucky, Governor Beshear’s duty is to serve the needs of the people of this state and not support the views of the elected leader of this country and the national Democratic Party.

In calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rethink proposed greenhouse gas regulations that he said would effectively ban new coal-fired power plants, the governor is being an advocate for a state in which coal mining remains critically important to economy and provides this part of the state with some of its highest-paying jobs.

In his letter to the federal agency, Beshear asked the EPA to consider an alternate approach that would allow the continued use of coal. He said the ability to grow the economy depends on affordable and reliable supplies of electricity. The EPA proposal would require any coal-fired power plant built in the country to meet the same emission standards as those that use natural gas or oil. The essentially would force utility companies to abandon coal as a power source at a time when coal continues to produce more electricity than any other source of energy and is still abundant.

To be sure, there are environmental problems associated with coal. No one denies that. But because coal is so abundant, the emphasis should be on making coal more environmentally friendly, not abandoning it. At the risk of being called naive, we continue to think that the term “clean coal” need not be an oxymoron.

Beshear’s politics are different than those of President Obama, who is not popular in Kentucky. Thus, the governor’s letter may be completely ignored by the EPA. Nevertheless, it is something that the elected leader of this coal state needed to say.

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