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EPA Regulations Highlight Deep Divide Over Energy

Monday’s news of new carbon emissions standards has highlighted a long-simmering divide in Kentucky.

The announcement of the draft regulations early this week quickly became a flashpoint for activists on both sides, once again pitting a well-established industry against advocates for new forms of energy.

Lawmakers, for the most part, bristled at the new EPA rules, dubbing them a “job killer” that will drive coal counties further into the economic doldrums.

Environmental advocates are cheering the move, which they say will force procrastinating states such as Kentucky to get serious about cleaner energy. But Kentuckians for the Commonwealth chair Suzanne Tallichet worries the state will instead spend its resources trying to defeat the regulations.

"If we put the money that I fear is going to go into challenging these rules into creating new jobs in renewable forms of energy that have worked around the state - we have wind in Kentucky, we have sun in Kentucky - we could create jobs around new forms of energy," she says.

That’s a switch coal supporters see as costly, complicated, and certain to drive up utility rates. Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett adds that the president’s goal could have little effect on climate change if other countries fail to follow suit and or even move toward coal.

The EPA’s new draft regulations call for an overall 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, but states are treated differently under the new rules – with Kentucky responsible for an 18 percent cut while Washington would need to slash its emissions by 72 percent to stay in compliance.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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