Energy

Ky. Democrat Wants To Create A ‘Sanctuary State’ Exempt From EPA Rules

REUTERS

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

A Kentucky Democratic state lawmaker has introduced a bill with a provision to create a “sanctuary state” immune to sweeping Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Rep. Jim Gooch’s bill would make “the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a sanctuary state from the overreaching regulatory power of the United States Environmental Protection Agency with respect to the implementation of federal rules to reduce carbon dioxide.”

Gooch’s bill would also require Kentucky bureaucrats to get legislative approval before complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) — a massive regulatory mandate for states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The CPP requires Kentucky to cut emissions 41 percent, which critics say would cripple the state’s coal industry. Coal industry-backed reports claim the CPP will cause state electricity rates to skyrocket as much as 20 percent as coal plant are shuttered and replaced with costlier green energy.

Gooch wants to create a “sanctuary” from the CPP, playing on language to describe U.S. cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws. There are 200 so-called “sanctuary cities” across the country which shelter illegal immigrants.

Kentucky lawmakers introduced a similar bill in 2011 to exempt state industries from EPA rules. Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith argued if cities can ignore immigration law, then Kentucky should be able to ignore coal rules. That year, Gooch introduced legislation exempting coal produced and used in-state from.

“We’re doing it to raise awareness of the fact that the federal government is overreaching into parts of our economy and it’s having a negative impact on Kentucky,” Smith said in 2011.

Kentucky has lost thousands of jobs in recent years due to low natural gas and federal environmental regulations. The state lost 644 power plant jobs from 2008 to 2013 and 5,188 coal mine jobs.

Kentucky is one of 27 states suing the EPA, trying to get federal courts to strike down the CPP for violating the Clean Air Act.

“This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history and the EPA does not have the legal authority to carry it out,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said in August, adding the EPA “is attempting to transform itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning agency for Kentucky.”

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