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KY Conservationists Pleased with New Pollution Rules; Governor is Not

Conservationis hail the first federal limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, but Kentucky's governor is not happy. Credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
Conservationis hail the first federal limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, but Kentucky's governor is not happy. Credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
August 4, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Obama administration has finalized the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, setting a goal of cutting emissions by 32 percent by 2030.

Governor Steve Beshear is calling the EPA Clean Power Plan "disastrous" for Kentucky's economy, but conservation groups say it will be a boost for public health as well as clean energy.

Betsy Bennett, conservation chair with the Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter, says she hopes the plan will be the push Kentucky needs to diversify its energy supply.

"President Obama has taken a huge step in making good on his commitment to fighting climate disruption," she says. "But there's still too much of a coal concentration in this state."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 92 percent of the electricity generated in Kentucky comes from coal. In a terse three-paragraph statement, Beshear said he is "extremely disappointed and frustrated" by the final plan, alleging the EPA did not listen to his state's concerns.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says Kentucky is ahead of the emission-rate trajectory set by the Clean Power Plan, but it's the result of recent decisions to retire "uneconomic" coal plants.

Bennett says that underscores the need to begin taking advantage of what the conservation community says have been missed opportunities.

"For solid economic development, getting into renewables and energy efficiency," she says.

Ed Perry with the National Wildlife Federation's Climate Change Campaign says the Clean Air Plan would improve public health, and is a win for nature too.

"This is a flexible, science-based rule that's going to represent real progress in protecting our country's natural resources," he says.

The governor and attorney general of Kentucky say they will continue to fight the new federal pollution-cutting rules in court.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY