Speaker names two to task force studying federal rules on electricity

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has named two House members, one from each of the state’s major coalfields, to serve on a new task force the General Assembly created this year to review the impact of federal rules on Kentucky’s electricity costs and its reliability.

Those representing the House on the Federal Environmental Regulation Assessment Task Force are Rep. Jim Gooch, of Providence, the long-time chair of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee; and Rep. Fitz Steele, of Hazard, who chairs the Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

“Both of these legislators have a true understanding of the importance coal plays in meeting our country’s energy needs, and both believe strongly, as I do, that undue interference from Washington has hindered our ability to provide affordable and reliable electricity,” Stumbo said.

“This task force will give us the data we need to fully understand just how much of a negative impact these federal rules have had on our electricity costs,” said Gooch, who sponsored the resolution authorizing the task force and is the task force’s co-chair. “I’m looking forward to taking this challenge on.”

“I’m proud to serve as a member, because I believe Kentuckians deserve to fully know just how much these federal rule changes have hurt them and their budgets,” Steele said. “It’s not just those of us who have suffered because of steep cuts in coal production.”

The General Assembly authorized the 22-member task force earlier this year by overwhelmingly voting for House Concurrent Resolution 168.

The resolution noted that, “during the past eight years, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has issued rules and regulations that have adversely impacted many industries through the over-reaching regulation of air, water and land.”

It later added that, between 2008 and 2013, Kentucky has lost more than 30 percent of coal jobs and 37 percent of power plant jobs.

A report from the task force—which also includes representatives from other government and quasi-government agencies, those in the fossil fuel industry and other consumer advocates—is due by the end of 2016.

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