Environment

Kentucky’s head environmental regulator says the state is hopeful the courts will rule upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations are illegal.

But if not, the state will likely create a state plan to comply, he said.

Last week, the Energy and Environment Cabinet announced it would seek an extension from the Environmental Protection Agency, buying the state two more years to let litigation over the regulation play out.

“Frankly, we still believe that the Clean Power Plan is illegal,” said Secretary Charles Snavely, who was appointed last month by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. “And we are pursuing that in litigation along with many other states.”

The extension request leaves Kentucky’s options open to either follow a federal blanket plan or craft a state plan to reduce emissions, if the lawsuit isn’t successful. But what was unclear was whether the Bevin Administration would ultimately choose either option. During his campaign, Bevin indicated the state wouldn’t comply with the Clean Power Plan, although experts said that wasn’t a viable option.

Snavely told WFPL News Kentucky will obey the law, when it comes to carbon dioxide regulations.

“If the litigation fails and there’s only the choice of having a state plan or a federal plan, in all cases in the past we have opted for state implementation of all the different initiatives under the Clean Air Act,” he said.

“That’s what we’ve done historically.”

Last week, on the same day Kentucky regulators announced they would seek an extension, a federal court ruled it wouldn’t block the Clean Power Plan’s implementation to allow litigation to proceed. If the court had issued a stay of the rules, it might not have been necessary for Kentucky to apply for an extension, Snavely said.

As part of the process of requesting an extension, the Energy and Environment Cabinet plans to hold listening sessions throughout the state to get public input.

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL. She is also Enterprise Editor.