The man who will help lead Kentucky’s effort to meet new air pollution standards says his office will stay above the political battle surrounding the issue.
Kentucky’s assistant secretary for climate policy, John Lyons, faces the unenviable task of combing through 1,400 pages of material that spell out the new federal carbon emissions rules announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. The regulations have been denounced this week by both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates as well as business leaders who predict doom for the state’s coal industry and overall economy.
Lyons, whose office is part of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, told WKU Public Radio that new federal air quality rules have been impacting the state’s energy policies for several years.
“This is the only latest in a string of environmental regulations that we have to evaluate. Of course, the politics play into that, and those things are what they are. But this Cabinet has to assess those rule-makings, and how best to adopt them—or challenge them in some cases, which is not unprecedented. We’ve challenged rules before, and likely will again at some point.”
While the new EPA standards call for a 30 percent reduction in the nation’s carbon emissions by 2030, Kentucky’s specific goal is a cut of 18.3 percent.
But that will be a major challenge given that 93 percent of the state’s electricity is generated from coal.
As for exactly how the commonwealth will try to comply with the new standards, Lyons says it’s way too early to consider specific remedies. After going through those 1,400 pages of rules released Monday, Lyons and his staff will prepare for a 120 day comment period that will allow states to officially respond to the federal regulations.
“That will start once the rule is published in the federal registry,” Lyons said. “We anticipate that is going to happen in the next couple of weeks.”