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Lawmakers Skewer EPA, Obama Over Coal Regulations

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A panel of Kentucky lawmakers is criticizing an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants

Members of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment targeted the regulations Thursday which will require a nationwide 30 percent reduction in the gas that climate scientist say contribute to climate change.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Chad Harpole believes the regulations will hurt the state’s competitiveness in attracting jobs, and that it will cost ratepayers in the state billions of dollars.

“Our elderly are going to pay more, our poor are going to pay more, the small tool and dye shop or the dry cleaner in your district is going to pay more, our smelters are going to pay more, our auto manufacturers are going to pay more,” Harpole said.

While committee members railed against the Obama Administration and the EPA over regulations they admittedly don’t fully understand, many of them attacked the science behind climate change. Senator Brandon Smith was one lawmaker expressing skepticism.

“But I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here,” Smith said. “Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

The Republican from Hazard owns a coal company on Earth. Never mind that the average Martian temperature is -67 degrees Fahrenheit, the committee was just getting warmed up.

Democratic Representative Kevin Sinnette pondered that climate change didn’t kill the dinosaurs, so human beings should be just fine.

“The dinosaurs died, and we don’t know why, but the world adjusted,” Sinnette said. “And to say that this is what’s going to cause detriment to people, I just don’t think it’s out there.”

Buried in the bluster were some actual data: Namely, a presentation by the state’s Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy that Kentucky will almost entirely be powered by natural gas in the year 2050.

Over 90 percent Kentucky’s energy comes from coal. As a result, the proposed regulations go easier on the state than others, requiring it to curb its emissions by 17 percent while potentially allowing some power plants to actually increase their emissions.

The state will have to submit its own proposal to the EPA by June 30, 2015.

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