Kentucky pol on EPA enforcement: "Secession is an option"
Posted January 6, 2011
Kentucky never did secede from the Union over slavery. But Environmental Protection Agency efforts to keep mining pollution out of Kentucky's air and water are another story, according to one state legislator.
"Secession is an option," Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, who has long been the Democrat’s top guy on the environment in the Kentucky House of Representatives, told me recently as I interviewed him for a story previewing what the Kentucky General Assembly might do on the environment this winter.
Gooch, of course, is not a constitutional theorist by trade. He has the typical resume of an Appalachian politician who backs the coal industry over the health and well-being of his own citizens. That is, he owns a steel business that sells equipment to Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and other coal companies that profit richly from too-easily-granted permits and unenforced environmental protections. And, sadly but predictably, he's the chair of the Kentucky House of Representatives' environment and natural resources committee.
Gooch is frustrated over reinvigorated EPA efforts to keep mining pollution out of the air and water in Kentucky, including plans to more closely scrutinize mountaintop removal mining operations. He's pushing his state house colleagues to support a "strongly worded resolution against the EPA."
Now, I know (or at least I hope!) that Rep. Gooch does not truly believe Kentucky should secede over legally authorized EPA actions. But his flippant comment tells you something about the mindset of many polluters and the politicians they support. They believe they have a right to pollute. (Conveniently ignoring other peoples' right not to be poisoned by the air we breathe and the water we drink.) For a humorous take on this mindset, check out my colleague Rob Perks' tongue-in-cheek Polluters' Bill of Rights.
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