WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT) - More reaction tonight to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's controversial statement indicating her agency is fighting a war on coal.
Earlier today on the senate floor, Republican Mitch McConnell condemned her comments.
He even mentioned WYMT as he voiced his frustrations with the EPA for not holding public hearings on coal issues here in Eastern Kentucky.
"Why does Administrator McCarthy have the time to appear on HBO, but not to appear on WYMT-TV in Hazard, so she can explain her War on Coal to the people it is most directly affecting? Why does she have time to sit down with a TV comedian, but not with the editors of the Appalachian News Express in Pikeville?” McConnell said.
He also added that he is not surprised by McCarthy's latest remark.
The top official at the Environmental Protection Agency appeared to suggest Friday the organization is fighting a "war on coal."
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made her comments during an interview with liberal talk show host Bill Maher.
Maher referenced the EPA's new "clean power program" and asked McCarthy, "Some people called it a war on coal. I hope it is a war on coal. Is it?"
McCarthy responded by saying, "Actually EPA is all about fighting against pollution and fighting for public health. That's exactly what this is."
Maher appeared to accept McCarthy's answer as confirmation there is a "war on coal."
McCarthy told the New York Times in July 2013 "we do not have a war on coal."
The phrase is often used by coal industry supporters who accuse the EPA of placing unfair regulations on mining.
Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett said McCarthy's bluntness in the interview with Maher is surprising since she usually approaches coal-related issues diplomatically.
"I think she has these thoughts. She's a disciple of Al Gore. She is very much against the mining and usage of coal," Bissett said Monday. "But to make this kind of public statement is really new ground for her."
McCarthy's comments bother Rep. Leslie Combs, a Democrat from Kentucky's 94th District, who thinks both sides should avoid using the term "war on coal" because it does not lend itself to constructive debate.
"She represents the EPA and the EPA needs to be helping us with our industries and working with us," Combs said. "And if indeed she said that, that's some of the same rhetoric I hate to hear from either side."
The EPA earlier this month proposed regulations that would significantly reduce carbon emissions from American power plants. Supporters argue the rules are necessary to prevent global warming, but opponents say coal production will decline if they go into effect.
An EPA spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner that McCarthy did not mean to imply the agency is waging a "war on coal," but was referencing the agency's Clean Power Plan.
Two candidates for U.S. Senate in Kentucky weighed in on McCarthy's comments Monday.
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement, "This is precisely the heavy-handed, dismissive attitude of the Obama administration and the EPA leadership that I have objected to so strongly. Instead of investing in making clean-coal technology more affordable and taking a balanced approach to combating climate change, they want to simply discard a bountiful American energy resource. That is absolutely wrong, it is harmful to Kentucky and to America, and I will fight such attitudes relentlessly in the Senate."
Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, said in a statement, "Kentuckians didn't need any further confirmation there was a war on coal after Barack Obama announced to the world that he would bankrupt the coal industry, but Alison Lundergan Grimes dutifully lined up to support him anyway. Her election season lip-service comes six years late and thousands of jobs short."