by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell says the Environmental Protection Agency has declared war on coal, and the Kentucky Republican is siding with the industry.

Speaking before the Kentucky Coal Association in Lexington Wednesday, McConnell said the EPA has defied logic and operated outside the scope of its authority with a permitting process that leaves coal operators in limbo.

“Of course the EPA’s real goal here is not to see the Kentucky coal industry comply with its boatload of regulations and red tape, it’s to see the Kentucky coal industry driven out of business altogether,” he says.

McConnell is co-sponsoring legislation with fellow Republican senators Rand Paul and Jim Inhofe to take on the EPA.

“The Mining Jobs Protection Act will tell EPA that they need to act within a reasonable time frame and give permit applicants the certainty… the certainty they need to do business,” he says.

McConnell cited a permit that was issued to a West Virginia coal mine in 2007 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but was vetoed by the EPA earlier this year. The agency said its decision was based on new scientific information.