By Tim Devaney - 08/02/14 11:10 PM EDT
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) used his Fancy Farm speech on Saturday night to warn voters about President Obama's "war on coal."
Speaking at the rowdy annual political picnic, the western Kentucky congressman told Bluegrass State voters that the Obama administration's new climate rules could mean fewer coal mining jobs in the state and deliver a devastating blow to the local economy.
"His EPA is finalizing a rule that will make America one of the only countries in the world where you cannot build a new coal power plant," Whitfield said during a campaign speech on Saturday. "And he's not satisfied with that. He's now coming out with a regulation on existing coal power plants."
Whitfield suggested the job losses could be even worse in Kentucky, one of the nation's premier coal-producing states, than in West Virginia, where Alpha Natural Resources announced on Friday that it may have to lay off 1,100 workers, in large part because of the new climate rules.
"I have in my hand, from the EPA's proposed regulation, they identify 15 electric-generating plants in Kentucky that they expect to close down, because of their new regulations," Whitfield said.
Whitfield argued the country does not have the capacity to produce enough renewable energy to replace the coal production it would lose under the new climate rules.
"Coal still provides 43 percent of electricity in America," he said. "Even though President Obama is providing millions of dollars to his wealthy supporters for green energy, we can't build enough wind mills and solar plants to produce the electricity that this country needs."
He blamed Senate Democrats for blocking GOP efforts to roll back these climate rules.
"We've passed 73 laws to stop this in the House," Whitfield said. "[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid won't take it up in the Senate."