McConnell says regulation from Washington hinders opportunities

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Kentucky Senate Leader Mitch McConnell made a number of stops in the area Wednesday. A concern for most people - the economy and how the Commonwealth will bounce back. But local officials say Washington D.C. seems to be standing in the way.

The senator's message Wednesday focused on the power of a divided government and how two sides at odds can bring about reform even in hard times.

But concerns in Kentucky have more to do with the coal industry.

"EPA's regulations on coal are having a more negative impact on the economy from Ashland to Middlesboro, than the recession is," said Albey Brock, Bell County Judge-Executive.

McConnell spoke to groups in both Bell and Harlan Counties.

"There are several companies in trouble right now because of the EPA's actions," said Joe Grieshop, Harlan County Judge-Executive.

"We are in constant contact through our office with the coal operators. And each and every one of them will tell you that the EPA is killing them," said Brock.

Local officials said problems with mining permits are stifling the economy.

This comes as dozens of miners were temporarily laid off last week in Bell and Harlan counties.

"We haven't passed any new legislation, but there are a bunch of new regulators appointed by the president who busily work trying to make it difficult to burn coal and to produce low cost electricity for our country," said Senator Mitch McConnell.

McConnell said regulation from Washington is hindering economic opportunities. And officials fear they could be fighting an uphill battle.

"You always want to try to diversify, but there's no way we can make plans for something like that. It's so abrupt. It's so hard," said Rob Lincks, Bell County Chamber of Commerce President.

You may remember last week Mountain News asked Gwen Keyes Fleming, regional administrator for the EPA, if the Obama administration is against coal.

She told Mountain News that it is not, but the EPA is trying to prevent the pollution that results.

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