New EPA rules fuel political fallout in KY - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New EPA rules fuel political fallout in KY

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A body blow to Kentucky's economy: that's what Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell says about new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new guidelines are designed to reduce the level of greenhouse gases, but they have also increased the level of political rhetoric.

The new EPA rules will require power plants to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.

"This is about protecting local economies, and it's about protecting jobs," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

But Sen. Mitch McConnell says the regulations will have the opposite effect, costing Kentucky coal jobs and increasing the cost of energy.

"This is the single worst blow to Kentucky's economy in modern times. Nothing else even comes close," he said.

"That's a typically uninformed expression from Sen. McConnell. He has no way of knowing that," said Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville.

Yarmuth supports the new rules, pointing out that they gives states flexibility in reaching the new standards.

"I'm actually confident that the state will be able to come up with a plan that has minimal impact on consumers and businesses," said Yarmuth.

But McConnell's Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, seems to agree with McConnell, releasing a statement saying that when she is in the Senate, "I will fiercely oppose the President's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my Number One priority."

"I'm not surprised that she says she's pro-coal. What else can she say?" said McConnell.

McConnell says Grimes' election would guarantee that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains in charge, and that Reid will stifle any attempt to block the new regulations.

"She would be ineffectively pro-coal because her election would guarantee we have a Senate that couldn't do anything about this problem," McConnell said.

Yarmuth, who is a Grimes supporter, admits the timing of the new rules is not the best for her campaign.

"It's probably not the best time for Alison. But Alison, again, is not supporting the administration on this. She's made that clear time, after time, after time. So there doesn't seem to be much distance between her and Sen. McConnell on this issue," he said.

Grimes is holding a fundraiser with Reid in Washington on Thursday.

Her campaign says she'll use the occasion to push for action on clean coal technology.

Meantime, Yarmuth is the only member of Kentucky's Washington delegation to come out in support of the new rules.

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