The new Environmental Protection Agency rules seek to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. State's heavily dependent on coal, like Kentucky, are expected to have some flexibility in meeting a new standard. Still, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett believes an already diminished eastern Kentucky mining industry would suffer more job losses and says the potential impact goes beyond the coal fields to all manufacturers.
"That's not just going to affect eastern Kentucky, that's already hurting,” Bissett said. “That's going to affect the entire Commonwealth, and to me that's a serious concern, especially for people, Louisville or Lexington and the population center. This is not good news for Kentucky and it's definitely not good news for eastern Kentucky."
Tom Pearce with Kentucky's Sierra Club sees the newly announced carbon emission rules as furthering economic development. Pearce says solar power panels will, over time, come down in price.
"That's going to require technicians,” Pearce said. “That's going to require people trained to install these things. It's going to create a whole new economy."
Pearce believes the new EPA rules can help lead Kentucky into a stronger solar age. He says Kentucky features more sunlight that Germany and Germany is producing 72 percent of its energy through solar.
Bissett says shuttering all coal fire electrical plants would only impact three percent of carbon on the planet. He says countries like India, China, Spain, Germany, and Russia continue to move forward with coal fired power plant production.
"We're not really going to have an impact on climate change, like the president is wanting, because everyone else is moving toward coal, so we're unilaterally making these decisions that are hurt our economy, make electricity more expensive at a time when the rest of the world in moving in the other direction," Bisset said.
Pearce says beyond the rule’s economic possibilities, there are health implications, reducing asthma and respiratory diseases.