PARIS, Ky. (WTVQ)- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was home in Kentucky Monday, but the man he brought with him was the one grabbing most of the headlines. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spoke to farmers in Paris about the Trump administration’s plan to end a major Obama-era environmental policy.
The Clean Power Plan was supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired plants, but the Supreme Court put it on hold because it inspired so many lawsuits.
Now, administrator Pruitt says he will sign a proposed rule Tuesday to withdraw the plan. Some Kentuckians worry it is a step backwards.
Pruitt says before President Trump was elected, there was not much hope for those in the agriculture community.
“There was a great deal of discouragement, a lot of uncertainty about the future, an overreaching Washington, D.C. that was trying to determine how you lived day in and day out,” Pruitt said.
Quoting Yogi Berra, the former UK and Georgetown College baseball player says the future of the EPA ain’t what it used to be. He used the Clean Power Plan as an example.
“We don’t exist to make the law. We don’t exist to simply re-imagine authority that Congress doesn’t give us, but in many examples over the last several years we had an administration, an EPA take statutes and re imagine authority and stretch it so far that it was beyond recognition,” Pruitt said.
McConnell says for eight years he asked the EPA administrator to visit Kentucky, but never got a yes until Pruitt took the job.
“As you can imagine, there haven’t been many smiling faces in southeast Kentucky,” McConnell said.
The Senate Majority Leader says he thinks less regulation combined with tax reform could help re-ignite the U.S. economy.
“The war on coal has taken its toll. Jobs lost. Communities suffering,” McConnell said.
“The war on coal was actually over several years ago and clean power is what has been replacing it for some time now,” Lane Boldman, Executive Director of the Kentucky Conservation Committee, said.
She says there are 1,500 clean energy jobs rising in Kentucky as coal jobs decline. She says it is ironic that Pruitt wants to roll back the Clean Power Plan because most states are already meeting its goals. She feels Pruitt is only slowing clean energy’s momentum.
“Radio was considered an old medium, but it never really went away. Things change. Economies change,” Boldman said.
She says that change does not mean coal jobs will be gone forever, but it does mean they will not exist on the scale they used to. She also says she knows a lot of people are hurting because of that, but that is why she is excited about new job opportunities in solar energy in Kentucky.