Politicians have reached new heights of hysteria over proposed federal rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
Kentucky’s Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, added to the din this week when he called it a “dumb-ass thing to do.”
But the plain truth is that the rules proposed last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency represent a modest effort to gradually reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, pollution most often from coal-fired plants that contributes to global warming, health problems and an increase of extreme weather events — such as drought, floods and wildfires.
The plan sets as a goal reducing carbon pollution by 30 percent by the year 2030 — using the year 2005 as a baseline.
It allows states great flexibility in designing their own plans to meet the goals, including Kentucky which relies on coal to generate most of its electricity.
And it is a goal the EPA and many experts believe is attainable with minimal pain but great gain to the country overall.
And despite wails that President Barack Obama is waging a war on coal, the EPA maintains states will be able to continue to use coal although in decreasing amounts in future years, The Courier-Journal’s James Bruggers reported last week.
That’s already happening in Kentucky, which has seen mining jobs shrink largely because of mechanization of coal mining and an energy market shifting to cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
The culture of coal is deeply ingrained in Kentucky, as tobacco once was.
But coal does not appear to be the fuel of the future and Kentucky’s leaders must begin planning a future where jobs, especially in eastern Kentucky, are not tied to digging a single mineral out of the ground.
— The Courier-Journal, Louisville