FRANKFORT — The term “coal wars” once referred to bitter conflicts between coal companies and miners who sought to unionize to negotiate for higher pay and more humane working conditions.
But in 2014, Kentucky’s coal war is between Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, 72, and the woman who wants his job — Democratic state Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, 35.
They both claim to be fighting for the “hard-working coal miner,” but, in reality, both are fighting for another prize: a U.S. Senate seat.
With Monday’s announcement of new carbon regulations by the Obama Administration the fight intensified. McConnell introduced in the Senate what he’s calling the Coal Country Protection Act, which would require certification that the new regulations won’t cost jobs, decrease the national Gross Domestic Product, increase electrical rates or lessen the reliability of electrical service delivery before implementation.
Grimes responded calling McConnell’s bill “inadequate” and saying EPA’s “overburdensome regulations” must be reined in.
“While it is heartening Mitch McConnell turns his eye to coal country every six years to get re-elected, the senior senator’s new bill does not go far enough and is inadequate,” said Jonathan Hurst, Grimes’ campaign manager.
Earlier Tuesday, McConnell spoke about his bill, attacking President Obama for “trying to impose this national energy tax.”
The new rules seek to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30 percent and particulate matter by 25 percent by 2030 nationally. But it assigns different targets to states based on their circumstances. As a coal-dependent state, Kentucky is asked to reduce emissions by 18 percent while some states are asked to reduce emissions by much more.
The regulations do not impose a tax, but McConnell’s Senate spokesman, Robert Steurer said, “The EPA regs will lead to increased costs on families across the country, a national energy tax.”