The Herald-Leader's recent attempt to equate those who work in the Kentucky coal fields — along with those of us who support and defend their way of life — with the Southern plantation owners who once enriched themselves off the backs of slaves is a depressing new low.
It's no secret that liberal progressives have a hard time moderating their passions or prioritizing outrage. But drawing a moral equivalence between America's original sin of slavery and the fight for Kentucky coal reveals a profound lack of moral seriousness — not to mention a troubling indifference to an industry that keeps this commonwealth and this country running.
The irony in these tone-deaf attacks is that some Senate Democrats whose extreme anti-coal position the Herald-Leader presumably supports are currently filibustering a bill that would keep women and children from being sold into trafficking rings.
I must have missed the paper's strong condemnation of these Democrats for their callous indifference to a modern form of slavery.
The fact is the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed energy regulation would hit the poorest Kentuckians hardest, since the likely increase in electricity costs that follows would be hardest for them to absorb. It would cost our overall economy an estimated $2 billion, and put thousands of our neighbors out of work. Those who support it are taking the polar opposite of a "progressive" stand.
Meanwhile, efforts to get other nations to comply with similar standards are going nowhere.
A recent climate agreement brokered by the Obama administration between the U.S. and China allows China to continue to emit carbon at current levels for 15 more years, even as America heavily regulates its own. That's not what I call a fair deal for Kentucky families — especially when EPA officials can't point to a single measurable benefit their proposed rule would have.
The Herald-Leader may be ratcheting up the rhetoric because the law and facts are so clearly against them. But my recent appeal to the nation's governors, urging them to resist the Obama administration's request to establish aggressive carbon-cutting targets, isn't rooted in economic concerns, as they allege. It's rooted in an honest reading of the law and the U.S. Constitution and years of listening to the concerns and anxieties of the constituents across the state.
On the constitutional question, no less a liberal luminary than President Barack Obama's Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, agrees with me. As Tribe put it in recent testimony before Congress: "... burning the Constitution is one thing we should not do as part of our national energy policy."
Yet faced with the fact that their liberal fantasies are in conflict with the law and the Constitution, opposed by the public, and inimical to the interests of struggling Kentuckians, the Herald-Leader decided to make an empty and angry appeal to the judgment of "history," which somehow always seems to be perfectly aligned with the policy goals of liberal Democrats.
The editorial's only other argument is an appeal to selective opinion polls, which is a disservice to readers. Other recent polls show that a majority of Americans feel the nation cannot afford the job losses and high costs likely to be associated with the administration's proposed EPA rule. Further, large majorities want our country to have a balanced approach to energy that includes the use of coal — a result that's in direct opposition to the EPA proposal.
However you look at it, the EPA's new climate rule is a disaster, and I won't stand idly by while the administration tries to ram it past my constituents in an illegal or unconstitutional manner. Nor will I stand idly by without defending Kentuckians from lost jobs and higher energy bills.
No one can predict the verdicts of history, but here's one thing you can be sure of: I will continue to wage this battle against the EPA on behalf of my constituents, and it's a fight I intend to win.