FRANKFORT — President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, called new regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 “a dumb-ass policy – and you can quote me on that.”
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, standing next to Stumbo smiled broadly and agreed.
“There’s one thing the speaker and I agree on – dumb-ass policy,” Stivers said. “But I didn’t endorse (Obama) as the speaker did.”
The new regulations announced Monday assign various reduction goals to states and allow states to develop their own plans for meeting those goals. Targets for coal-dependent states like Kentucky and West Virginia were set at lower levels because of those states’ “individual circumstances,” according to senior officials of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Stumbo conceded the new regulations could have been harder on the coal industry and Kentucky, but that didn’t change his opinion of them.
“It could’ve been worse,” he said. “But the problem is a global problem and why solve it on the backs of American citizens?” He pointed to the emerging economies in China (the world’s largest carbon polluter – the U.S. is second) and India.
The proposed regulations won’t become effective for at least a couple of years. First they must go through a public comment period, finalization by the EPA and survive both legislative and court challenges.
Stivers and Stumbo predicted years of legal challenges, and Stumbo seemed near endorsing a bill sponsored by Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to require certification the new rules won’t cost jobs, raise electrical rates or hurt the economy before implementation. (The bill isn’t expected to go anywhere in the Senate controlled by a majority of Democrats.)