McConnell, others testify at EPA hearing on power plant regulations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT) - People affected by new regulations on power plants - particularly ones fired by coal - testified Thursday before a panel of Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Power plants are targeted by new EPA regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

"I urge the EPA to move quickly with the proposed and final rules," southern West Virginia resident Robin Blakeman said. "So that the U.S. can begin to address the increasingly urgent problem of climate change, which threatens mass extinctions of many species."

Dozens of people, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,shared their thoughts on the regulations Thursday at an EPA listening session in Washington, D.C.

"The whole lineup was stacked with left-wing extremists who are in this administration busily at work destroying the economy of Eastern Kentucky," said McConnell, who is also the Republican leader in the Senate. "It's absolutely outrageous."

Joining McConnell was James River Coal Service President Brian Patton, whose company laid off more than 200 miners this week in Perry County.

"In Appalachia, without coal and without the industry that provides jobs, we have very little left for these people to remain employed," Patton said.

But EPA supporters argue preventing pollution to the air and water should be the priority.

"By regulating the amount of coal-powered pollution that is produced by plants you are also helping the communities where the coal industry on a daily basis rips coal from the ground and blows up entire mountains," said Dustin White, who lives in southern West Virginia. "Let's call it what it is - coal pollution."

McConnell invited EPA officials to hold a hearing in Pikeville, but does not expect that to come to fruition.

"They haven't even answered the letter I sent them asking for a hearing in Pikeville," McConnell said. "They're so arrogant, they don't even respond when the Republican leader of the Senate tried to get an answer as to whether or not they want to go out and listen to people who are directly affected by this outrageous regulation."

McConnell continued, "No, I don't expect them to have a hearing in Pikeville. I think they'd be afraid to come there."

To see a list of dates and places where EPA listening sessions are taking place, visit:

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