Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s already been in the news a few times today, but here’s one more story from an environmental perspective: McConnell says President Obama’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator will be detrimental to Kentucky’s coal industry.
Obama nominated Gina McCarthy for the job last month. McCarthy previously served as Assistant Administrator in the EPA’s Office of Air, and was responsible for crafting many of the new air regulations that were unveiled during Obama’s first term. She’s won grudging respect from many conservatives, including many industry representatives. But after interviewing McCarthy today, McConnell says he’s confident that her nomination would be bad for Kentucky’s coal industry.
Here’s a statement McConnell’s office sent out:
“If confirmed as Administrator, I am concerned that Gina McCarthy would continue to foster this administration’s radical environmental and anti-coal jobs agenda,” said Senator McConnell. “Vast overreach and burdensome rules and regulations that stifle job creation have been the bedrock of this administration for too long. With 18,000 Kentuckians working in coal mining and nearly 200,000 more, including farmers, realtors, and transportation workers, relying on the coal industry for their jobs, it is time for this administration to stop trivializing the livelihoods of my constituents just to further its own misguided agenda.”
McConnell’s figure of the number of coal jobs in Kentucky is slightly off; data was released last week that showed the industry employed 14,083 coal miners last year, in both the eastern and western parts of the state. The industry is definitely suffering, though McConnell doesn’t mention other factors that have contributed to the coal industry’s decline–like low natural gas prices and a decline in easy-to-mine reserves in Eastern Kentucky.
If he chooses, McConnell could block McCarthy’s appointment with a filibuster that requires a 60-vote cloture to proceed with her nomination.