McConnell pushes again to ease regulations on coal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on Congress to pass legislation to ease federal regulations on coal mining.

McConnell blamed those regulations for creating an economic depression in the Kentucky coalfields, which he said have lost more than 5,000 jobs over the past five years.

He is proposing what he dubbed the Saving Coal Jobs Act. The measure would streamline the permitting process for proposed new mines and for expanding existing ones by setting a deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency to act. It also would block any new EPA carbon pollution mandates on coal-fired power plants.

McConnell said Kentucky is facing "a genuine emergency," pointing to news earlier this week that Virginia-based James River Coal is idling mines and laying off some 525 miners.

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