The recent report on further declining coal jobs is deeply unsettling. Last week as I traveled in Eastern Kentucky, I witnessed the devastation caused by the war on coal. From Corbin to Pineville, to Harlan to Whitesburg, and Pikeville to Campton, people are worried about the future.
The same people who created the war on coal with impossible rules on carbon capture now argue that they will subsidize research to help companies comply with carbon capture. The only problem is that it makes no sense to bankrupt coal companies with regulations and then say, “Oh, now we will subsidize you so you try to meet these impossible regulations.”
President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised they would bankrupt coal. Having come very close to their goal, they are now saying they will rescue us with subsidies.
Forgive me if I am a little distrustful of the “help” being offered by people whose stated goal was to destroy a once great Kentucky industry.
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You cannot be a friend to Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky or Kentucky coal if you support Clinton. You cannot call yourself a friend to our coal miners and their families if you supported Obama. It’s just that simple.
You see, the problem with coal and jobs in Kentucky isn’t about a lack of funding or research into clean-coal technology or carbon capture, something that is a decade or more away at best. The problem is the oppressive, job-killing regulations of the Obama administration that Clinton has vowed to continue.
I would repeal every one of those regulations. I have voted over and over to repeal job-killing anti-coal regulations, only to have Obama use his veto to keep the regulations alive.
While Kentucky has many conservative Democrats, including some in my family, national Democrats are 100 percent against coal and against Eastern Kentucky. If your state representative supports Clinton, isn’t that a problem? If your local politician supports her, isn’t that hurting any chance Eastern Kentucky has of surviving?
National Democratic funding comes from environmental extremists whose agenda is to kill off coal.
I promised to lead the fight in defending Kentucky from the Obama-Clinton agenda of abusive Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and I’ve fought back at every chance I’ve had.
In 2011, when the EPA proposed its regulation-heavy Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, I introduced a bill to throw it out and ban the EPA from producing similar mandates. I cosponsored legislation to stop the destructive effects of the Clean Power Plan and Stream Protection rules. When Clinton bragged about putting coal miners out of work, I demanded an apology.
I’ve also introduced a plan to help revitalize the communities that have already been so incredibly damaged. I have proposed designating eligible counties in Kentucky as Economic Freedom Zones, which is an empowering solution using the resources we have right here in Kentucky.
Economic Freedom Zones are areas of reduced taxes and regulations, and increased incentives for businesses. Communities are empowered to leverage human capital, natural resources and investment opportunities that already exist. By slashing the federal tax rate to 5 percent for 10 years, we can incentivize businesses to locate in struggling communities, providing jobs and opportunities.
With my plan, Eastern Kentucky would have kept over $500 million this year.
Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers, like politicians have done with the overregulation of the coal industry. My plan gets government out of the way, and lets consumers in the community decide who succeeds. Reducing the taxes in economically depressed areas is a stimulus that will work because the money is returned to businesses and individuals who have already proven they can succeed.
Recently, I was in Western Kentucky; and although it’s the opposite side of the state, the war on coal has inflicted destruction upon Kentuckians there, too. I met with leaders in the coal industry, as I have done many times before, to hear their concerns and relay what I’m doing to fight back against the regulations strangling their industry and destroying the livelihoods of Kentucky families.
I’m leading the fight for Kentucky, our coal miners and their families; but Kentuckians can join me in that fight. We can put a stop to the Clinton-Obama agenda, and it can happen at the ballot box this November by electing true friends of coal, not allies of the very people calling for mass destruction of our industry.
Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.