Mitch McConnell: Editorial wrong to dismiss my plan to create jobs

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Herald-Leader

Your latest editorial screed claiming that the legislation I recently announced to beat back the Environmental Protection Agency's war on coal, the Coal Jobs Protection Act, will be "no help" to Eastern Kentucky proves once again just how out of touch the Herald-Leader is with its readers and the communities you claim to serve.

Since you're such a fan of unscientific polls, let me suggest one for you to take: do you think Kentuckians would like to see more solutions from their elected officials to save disappearing coal industry jobs, or more editorials from an out-of-touch, left-leaning newspaper?

Leave it to the Herald-Leader to callously ignore the true pain and loss of much-needed jobs in Eastern Kentucky, not to mention a way of life.

Even worse is your condescending attitude toward those who mourn the loss of economic vitality the coal industry provides. "Human nature craves simplicity?"

No, human nature craves opportunity, and the EPA and the Obama administration are robbing Kentuckians of opportunities to work and provide for their families through back-door maneuvering to shut down what were once thriving coal mines.

Here are some facts that I'm sure go unmentioned in this newspaper and therefore ought to be news to your readers. EPA regulations mandating expensive new technologies be retrofitted to existing coal plants are directly responsible for the shutdown of the Big Sandy power generating plant near Louisa. One mining executive who supplies to Big Sandy says the shutdown will cause the layoffs of 350 miners, and that if the EPA "keeps this up, the people who live here are going to have to move somewhere else, like during the Depression."

Despite the Herald-Leader's transparent attempts to demagogue this issue and make it a rallying point to recruit a candidate to run against me, both Democrats and Republicans understand the damage the EPA is wreaking in our state. Democratic state representative Rocky Adkins, the majority floor leader who represents Boyd, Elliott, Lawrence and Rowan counties in Eastern Kentucky, says what the EPA is doing "is breaking the back of our local economy."

I was in Pikeville and Hazard to announce the Coal Jobs Protection Act, and I spoke directly with many miners who have been put out of work by this EPA and their family members. Let me assure you, the economic costs of the EPA's vendetta against the coal industry are real.

Also, the EPA is deliberately dragging its feet on approval of many 402 permits which, if it would release them from regulatory limbo, would produce $123 million in coal severance payments that could be injected directly into the local communities that have been hit the hardest by coal-industry layoffs and most desperately need the money.

Ending this regulatory uncertainty around the 402 permits would also enable many miners to go back to work. I specifically asked President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the EPA, Gina McCarthy, about this issue, and urged her to make action on these permits a priority.

But I suppose to this newspaper, all that means nothing. I've been elected four times unanimously to lead my party in the U.S. Senate, but the Herald-Leader acts as if replacing me with a newly elected member who would rank at the bottom of the totem pole wouldn't have a measurable impact on Kentuckians.

I'll bet your readers can ask themselves who they would rather have posing the tough questions to the EPA regulators and reach a quick and easy answer. One thing is for sure: waving a copy of the Herald-Leader's editorial in a bureaucrat's face won't stop the next wave of destructive regulations from being issued. And it certainly won't save a single job.

At issue: May 7 Herald-Leader editorial, "More leadership, fewer platitudes; McConnell antics no help to E. Ky."

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