Environment
4:12 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Kentucky Has 'Obligation' to Address Climate Change, Beshear Says

On a day when Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates are taking turns urging restraint on climate change and touting coal, Gov. Steve Beshear took a more middle-of-the-road approach. The governor said Tuesday that he believes the commonwealth has an obligation to address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but he believes it can be done in a way that doesn’t omit coal entirely.

In his address to the 37th Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment, Beshear echoed a majority of scientists, saying climate change is both happening and influenced by human activity. And in light of that, Kentucky will have to adjust, and work with federal regulators.

As a coal-producing state, Beshear said it’s crucial that Kentucky’s voice be heard. But:

“For our voice to be taken seriously in this dialogue, though, we have to acknowledge our commitment to address greenhouse gas emissions while stressing the need for a rational, flexible regulatory approach,” he said.

It wasn’t a surprise when President Obama announced his climate change agenda earlier this year, and Beshear says the state has been planning for that for awhile. But he doesn’t want the state’s economy to be forced to take a disproportionately large hit because Kentucky relies heavily on coal-fired electricity, which releases large amounts of greenhouse gases.

“The bottom line is we know that we have an obligation to address greenhouse gas emissions. And our goal has been to do so in a meaningful and affordable manner,” he says. “We want to make sure that we don’t carry the bulk of the burden under federal rules.”

Last week, Beshear's Energy and Environment Cabinet announced the creation of a new position: former Division for Air Quality Director John Lyons is now the Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy. His new role is dedicated to determining how to implement the regulatory pieces of federal climate change policies.

Beshear said his administration will continue to work with the federal government to chart a course that takes energy, the environment and the economy into account.

Listen to Beshear's speech: