Since the Herald-Leader decided to question my perception of “reality,” when it comes to Kentucky’s coal industry, I’d like to take a moment to remind them of the true, hard facts that shape that reality — a reality for the thousands of Kentuckians who have been hit by the war on coal.
Kentucky has lost over 10,000 coal jobs since 2008, which is a 56 percent decline under the Obama administration. And that doesn’t even count the jobs lost in other coal-related businesses.
Kentucky’s coal-dependent industries have taken massive hits, like CSX Transportation, which laid off over 280 employees in the last year. Why? There isn’t enough coal for them to transport.
Over the last eight years, President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has continued to reach its hands of regulatory overreach into Kentucky’s communities and squeeze the life out of our coal industry. They’ve waged a war on coal so brutal that the destruction has significantly spread to the plethora of industries that depend on coal to survive.
And they’re not ashamed to admit, as Hillary Clinton recently did, that their intent is “to put a lot of coal miners out of business.”
Like many of you, I see the reality of a commonwealth struggling under the onerous regulations enacted by our president and his allies. Which is why I have fought against the liberal Washington machine and the war on coal my entire time in the Senate, and I have led the fight to defend Kentucky from the EPA’s abusive regulations at every chance I’ve had.
In 2011, when the EPA proposed its newly modified and regulation-heavy Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, I introduced a bill to throw out the rule and ban the EPA from producing any substantially similar mandates. I also proudly cosponsored legislation to stop the destructive effects of both the Clean Power Plan and Stream Protection rules.
I’ve also gone one step further and introduced a plan to help revitalize the communities that have already been so incredibly damaged by the Obama-Clinton war on coal. 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. They empower communities by leveraging the human capital, natural resources and business investment opportunities that already exist. By slashing the federal tax rate to 5 percent for a 10-year period in these areas, we can incentivize more businesses to locate in our struggling communities and provide more jobs and opportunities.
If my bill had passed, the West End would have kept $200 million next year. Eastern Kentucky would have kept over $500 million.
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.
Kentucky cannot afford to elect someone who is determined to destroy its economy. We also cannot afford a handpicked Obama nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. An anti-coal appointee would be catastrophic for Kentucky’s coal jobs and coal-dependent industries.
Kentucky needs leaders who will stand up to the Obama-Clinton war on coal and fight back against their onslaught of regulatory insanity.
When I promised to fight for Kentucky every day in the Senate and to stand strong for coal and Kentucky jobs, I meant it. And I’m still leading the charge. But it is absolutely critical that Clinton and her loyal foot soldiers are stopped now before they win the war that Obama started.
Sen. Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the United States Senate.