Environment

Nearly all of Kentucky’s federal representatives have formally filed a document in support of a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide regulations.

The EPA finalized the Clean Power Plan last summer. It sets carbon reduction goals for each state, and is part of President Obama’s overall goal of addressing climate change. Almost immediately, a coalition of states — including Kentucky — and industry groups sued to overturn the rule.

The lawsuit is set to be heard in June by the D.C. Court of Appeals. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued a stay, blocking the regulations from going into effect until all legal challenges are settled.

The amicus brief filed today by more than 200 U.S. senators and representatives supports the challenges against the EPA’s rule. All of Kentucky’s Republican senators and congressmen — which is all of the state’s federal delegation except for Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville — signed on to the brief.

“This is the latest effort to fight back against the Obama Administration’s War on Coal, and I am proud to lead efforts in filing this brief in support of Kentucky,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an emailed statement. “Our amicus brief makes clear that it is the role of Congress to legislate and the Administration has overstepped its authority by essentially legislating through regulation.”

The Clean Power Plan has been politically controversial in Kentucky, where coal still provides more than 90 percent of the electricity. But over the past decade, the industry has struggled due to competition from natural gas, rising production costs in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields and updated pollution standards. Despite political rhetoric, statistics suggest that even without the carbon dioxide regulations, Kentucky’s coal industry won’t return to its previous strength.