Two bills written to shield the Kentucky coal industry from overreaching federal regulation passed out of committee Thursday, one in the House, the other in the Senate.

A bill that would exempt Kentucky coal mines and coal alteration facilities that mine or alter coal in Kentucky for exclusive use within the Commonwealth from requirements of the Clean Water Act unanimously passed out of a House committee.

HB421 declares that Congress has no authority to regulate intrastate commerce.

Section 1 of the Constitution of Kentucky recognizes that citizens of the Commonwealth have certain inherent, inalienable rights, including the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberty and the right of pursuing their safety and happiness, which may not be infringed by Acts of Congress that lack constitutional authority.

Rep. Jim Gooch (D-Providence) sponsored the bill. He also chairs the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

“The EPA don’t understand mining,” he said during a committee meeting. “We’re trying to say to those folks, we don’t want them having ultimate say or control.”

Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) sits on the committee. He told members that the federal government overreaches its authority not only in environmental regulations, but also in health care and other segments of the state’s economy.

The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee unanimously passed SJR99, which declares Kentucky a sanctuary state from the regulatory overreach of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Among other things, the resolution would place authority for determining water quality standards exclusively in state hands, would forbid state agencies from collecting certain federal fines from coal companies and give the state Energy and Environment Cabinet the authority to regulate mining on its own.

If the resolution passed both the House and the Senate, it would become law, but would not go into the statute books.

Brandon Smith (R-Hazard) sponsored the bill.

Mike Maharrey

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