Politics

Ahead of President Trump’s executive order that will begin rolling back power plant emission rules, Gov. Matt Bevin predicted that the move will bring back jobs to Kentucky’s coal fields.

“We just are being suffocated by overregulation,” Bevin said Tuesday morning on WVHU, a radio station in Huntington, West Virginia. “And regulation that’s frankly not based on science, it’s not based on anything where it’s been proven in any way shape or form that it actually helps anyone.”

Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to consider repealing former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

He also lifted the moratorium on leasing out federal land for coal mining and ended the requirement for federal agencies to factor in climate change when developing regulations.

Politicians of both political stripes in the state have blamed the loss of thousands of coal jobs in Kentucky on Obama’s environmental policies, though experts say other factors like the abundance of cheap natural gas and inexpensive coal in other parts of the country are more to blame.

On the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell said Obama’s regulatory policies weren’t created to ensure clean air and clean water.

“It was an ideological vanity project,” McConnell said. “Fortunately, the EPA will have the opportunity now to go back to the drawing board and get this right with balanced and serious polices.”

The Clean Power Plan sets out to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 32 percent by 2030.

The policy is the cornerstone of the country’s stake in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, in which 180 countries agreed to take steps to keep Earth’s temperature from increasing 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Though Trump hasn’t said if the U.S. will pull out of the agreement, his administration appears determined to do away with the Obama-era polices that stem from it.

Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, said he does not think carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change despite agreement among scientists that climate change is occurring and caused by greenhouse gases.

Bevin called Pruitt, a native off Lexington, “rock solid.”

“He’s a man with a brilliant mind and he really wants to see thoughtful, intelligent environmental policy that’s factually-based,” Bevin said. “He’s a big believer of that but he doesn’t want to suffocate business just for the sake of proving some ideological environmental point.”

This story has been updated.

 

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.