It seems Kentucky’s coal miners can expect another hit from the federal government as President Barack Obama was expected to deliver a speech on Tuesday outlining his plan to regulate existing coal-fired power plants.
For Eastern Kentucky, this is exactly what we do not need.
The president plans to sidestep congressional action in favor of executive orders that regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, which many scientists blame for climate change they say the planet is currently experiencing, pointing to melting ice caps and rising seas as evidence.
We won’t argue the science on climate change. To us it seems pretty clear, but at the same time any tightening on existing coal-fired plants will put a deeper stranglehold on coal-rich regions like Eastern Kentucky. In turn, we can expect that the 5,700 jobs lost in the local coal industry in 2012 were just the first round.
As the president is expected to make a strong push for renewables, which will be coupled with the ongoing surge for natural gas, it seems Eastern Kentucky’s one-note economy will be on the line. In others words, if we fail to quickly diversify we’re in deep trouble.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, in a speech released Tuesday, said President Obama’s plan is not only a war on coal, but a war on jobs. While the president may not see it that way himself, the end result of tightening coal regulations, at least here in Eastern Kentucky where the industry is already hurting, will mean a loss on jobs that we can’t stand.
We’re flabbergasted that our federal government has moved so slowly, or not at all, to incentivize the development of clean coal technologies that could have not only helped save jobs, but perhaps even created them while also reducing the amount of carbon emitted annually into the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, we’re also disheartened that here in Eastern Kentucky we have moved so slowly to build a more diversified economy that the downfall of the coal industry might be our region’s downfall as well.
Ultimately, President Obama’s planned executive order should be no surprise coming from a president who during his 2008 campaign bluntly declared that it would not be financially feasible for a company to build a coal-fired plant during his administration.
We all saw this coming.
But something we also should have seen coming here is that in Eastern Kentucky we would someday need something other than coal. Whether you want it to or not, it seems that day is fast approaching.
— The Hazard Herald