Environment Local News

House Passes Bill to Let States Regulate Coal Ash

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. The bill gives control of coal ash disposal to the states, which are required to regulate it as least as stringently as municipal waste.

Environmental groups opposed the bill, arguing the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate coal ash. The EPA has proposed two rules to control the substance, but if the House bill becomes law, it will be prohibited from instituting either rule.

The bill passed 267 to 144. Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth voted against the bill, while Democrat Ben Chandler and Republicans Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Geoff Davis supported it.

The bill’s chances in the Senate are unknown. Many Republicans are expected to vote in favor of it, but some coalfields Democrats have also expressed support.

Environment Local News

House Vote Expected Friday on Bill to Delay Air Regulations

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill tomorrow that would change the way the Clean Air Act is administered.

The bill is called TRAIN for short—the long name is the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011. TRAIN began as a bill to require analysis of the cumulative effect of upcoming environmental regulations, but various amendments, including one by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, have changed it into a bill that would delay air pollution regulations, some for years, some indefinitely.

Isaac Shapiro of the non-profit non-partisan Economic Policy Institute published a study of the clean air rules earlier this week, and found:

“In combination, the compliance cost from the Obama proposals is really a small sliver of the economy,” he said. “The total compliance cost from the Obama EPA rules amounts to only 0.1 percent of the economy and that’s a proportion that the economy can readily absorb.”

Shapiro’s analysis says the rules will save millions—or in some cases, tens of millions—of dollars, mostly in reduced health care costs and fewer missed work days. From a purely economic perspective, he says the rules are worth it. And in the case of most of the rules the bill is seeking to delay, Shapiro says they’ve already gone through years of study and analysis.

“It’s the outcome of a very open, transparent, intense process that has to take into account the views of both opponents and proponents of the regulation. So after all this has been done, they’re asking for further delay in this TRAIN legislation and I think that’s inappropriate.”

The bill has 45 co-sponsors, including Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield. President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation.

Local News Politics

Kentucky Lawmakers Respond to Jobs Plan

Elected officials in Kentucky are split along party lines on President Barack Obama’s jobs plan.

Tonight, the president put forward a $450 billion proposal to create jobs. It calls for infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts, an extension of unemployment benefits and reforms to Medicaid and Social Security.

Junior Senator Rand Paul was the first lawmaker to issue a response, releasing a video minutes after the speech ended. Paul repeated his calls for a balanced budget amendment and encouraged the president to support cuts in spending and the corporate tax rate.

Kentucky’s four Republican members of the House—Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Geoff Davis, Hal Rogers—were also critical of the plan.

Democratic Congressmen Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth were supportive of the president’s proposals in statements released after the speech. Yarmuth said he wants to see specific details, but the plan should gain bipartisan support.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, called on Congress to pass the plan, saying numerous infrastructure projects in Louisville could benefit from it.

Obama also called on lawmakers to “stop the political circus” in his speech.

Local News

Guthrie Defeats Boswell For 2nd District Congress

Republican Brett Guthrie defeated Democrat David Boswell in the race for the Second District
Congressional seat made vacant by the retirement of Republican Ron Lewis.

In other Kentucky congressional races, incumbents Ed Whitfield, John Yarmuth, Geoff Davis
Hal Rogers and Ben Chandler all won re-election. Whitfield, Davis and Rogers are Republicans.
Yarmuth and Chandler are Democrats.