Kentucky is known as "coal country" for the vast amount of coal it has historically produced. However, times are changing, and economic and political factors are slowly changing the form of energy that the state is relying on.
It's not just that burning coal is known to release pollutants that contribute to poor air quality, respiratory illnesses and climate change. Recent developments in the natural gas industry have made that source of energy much cheaper than coal, to the point where many plants see the incentive to switch. In addition, as this blog has written previously, the Obama Administration is ordering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set up a cap-and-trade system for coal-fired plants. This will further increase the price of coal and make natural gas more attractive.
In Kentucky, the New York Times reports that this transition is well underway.
"If you add all the numbers up, we can probably comply with the terms of the rule with very little impact, if any, because everybody's heading in that direction to begin with," Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat from Louisville, told the news source. "Anybody who's actually looked at the subject understands coal is going to play a dramatically reduced role in our nation's energy portfolio."
The state, like many other regions in the country, is being presented with an important opportunity that should not be missed. Coal carries a number of environmental risks, as this blog has covered previously. By working with environmental consultants, utilities can set up safer, more sustainable generation facilities.