Coal is unarguably the lifeblood of Kentucky. Yet, it seems that Kentuckians are never really in control of their own life source. In the twentieth century Kentuckians fought off corrupted Coal Barons, mine owners traditionally from the South, who cared little about Kentucky and its inhabitants. Yet, it seems as if the twenty-first century comes with its own Coal Barons, just as interested in the regulation of Kentucky’s coal.
Just like Coal Barons of the past, the EPA is restricting Kentucky’s economic prospects and ability to prosper. The mining of coal keeps energy costs low, provides job opportunities in a stagnated economy, and it is the most profitable natural resource Kentucky has to offer. Yet the EPA insists upon limiting Kentucky’s economic potential with ‘one size fits all’ regulations.
In 2012 the EPA proposed the Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants. This standard would prevent Kentucky from constructing new coal-fired power plants by requiring them to capture greenhouse gas emissions – an effort Kentucky can ill afford. A survey done by the American Legislative Council (ALEC) shows that 93% of Kentucky’s electricity comes from coal, second only to West Virginia. Because of this, the Carbon Pollution Standard is very troubling, as it would limit the amount of electricity Kentuckians could produce. In June, the federal government went a step farther, proposing a regulation that would limit pollution from preexisting coal-fired power plants. This standard would come into play in 2015, and would put Kentuckians in an economic bind.
Kentucky would suffer greatly from the Carbon Pollution Standard, but it would not be alone. States heavily dependent on coal, like West Virginia, would also be affected. But coal is not the only natural resource being regulated by Washington; this increased federal regulation has, and will, impact states across the nation, with the potential of limiting energy production and economic prosperity. Because of the negative implications of federal regulation, we need to ask when this trend will end and allow states to control their own resources. Further, we should question Washington’s authority to regulate each state’s natural resources.