Much of the speaking at this weekend’s Fancy Farm picnic trended towards national issues. Candidates praised the military, worried about public debt and criticized what is—or isn’t—getting done in Washington. But coal and federal environmental regulations were also a target in several speeches.
Coal crossed party lines at Fancy Farm, as both Democrats and Republicans jostled to position themselves against unpopular federal policies. Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield brought up President Barack Obama and his administration’s new environmental regulations.
“Because his EPA is putting additional regulations on the utilities, delaying permits for coal miners, putting new air transport , new ozone rules in, and when they’re adopted, 2/3 of America is going to be in non-attainment,” he said. “And when you’re in non-attainment, you can’t develop anymore.”
Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway brought up the lawsuit he filed on behalf of his fellow Democrat, Governor Steve Beshear, against the Environmental Protection Agency’s increased scrutiny of coal mine permits…
“I have filed a lawsuit, governor, against the EPA and I will continue to stand up to them when they continue to hurt Kentucky’s coal economy,” he said.
Conway’s opponent, Republican Todd P’Pool, countered that in his speech, dismissing Conway’s lawsuit.
“Well my dad was a coal miner, my granddad, my uncles and cousins are coal miners,” P’Pool said. “And where is Jack Conway when it comes to fighting the EPA? He’s on the sidelines.”
Independent gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith is the only candidate running on an anti-mountaintop removal platform. But he quickly reminded voters that he’s not against coal.
“We don’t want mountaintop removal,” he said. “We need coal, we need coal, but we don’t need that extremely destructive way of gathering it. We need coal, but we need to talk about the environment too.”
Beshear stayed away from any policy statements, but his Republican opponent David Williams gave a nod to the coal industry as he ended his speech.
“As your governor, I will stand up to Barack Obama, save the coal industry, protect our farmers,” he said.
Though the federal government’s stance on coal will likely have nothing to do with who’s in Kentucky’s governor’s mansion, the governor does oversee Kentucky’s Energy and Environment cabinet, and has a hand in permitting issues.