12:12pm

Wed June 1, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Conservationist Calls Beshear Wrong on Coal

Responding to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s claim that the federal government is the reason for rising utility bills, the director of the Kentucky Resources Council says the governor should strive to lower electricity consumption instead of blaming regulators.

Last month, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ announced a rate increase up to 19 percent. The governor said the hikes were due to the “federal government’s war on coal,” which has been the administration’s favorite talking point and defense of the state’s coal industry in recent months.

In an editorial sent to the Lexington Herald-Leader, conservationist Tom Fitzgerald tells Beshear to get his facts straight on the myriad of pollutants covered in the Clean Air Act and to push for greener energy sources and initiatives.

From the Herald-Leader:

The rising costs of coal-fired electricity in part reflect the internalization of costs that have been historically paid by the most vulnerable of Kentucky’s citizens in premature death, respiratory and pulmonary disease and other exposure-related health problems. For more information on the consequences of breathing these pollutants, visit www.epa.gov/air/airpollutants.html.

The Beshear administration should bear in mind that there is no right, under federal or state law, for a utility to use the public’s air to disperse and dispose of wastes from energy production — only a limited privilege to emit under standards designed to prevent respiratory and other illness and premature deaths. If the administration believes that the health science does not support the standards, it is free to challenge the underlying science.

In previous statements, Beshear has said his administration has invested in renewable energy and other conservation measures, but face unfair mandates from the federal government.

The governor’s office has not returned our request for comment.