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Kentucky's new proposed rule on coal ash comes under scrutiny

A Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesperson said that the agency is committed to protecting the environment and health of Kentucky citizens following recent criticism over a proposed state rule that would loosen regulations on coal ash cleanup.

"We will look at the regulation in light of the comments and the statements made," Cabinet spokesperson John Mura told S&P Global Market Intelligence. "Our cabinet enforces regulations. We enforce the law as well as we protect the environment and the health of Kentucky citizens, and we intend to do all of those things."

A recent report by the Courier-Journal said that a proposed rule from the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin would make it more difficult for the public and state regulatory agencies to manage coal ash waste produced at power plants around the state. The report said one of the EEC's own energy experts spoke out as a private citizen against the rule at a public hearing, saying the state would have to return millions of dollars in bonds paid by utilities and that planned landfill projects for the waste could be built without local or state input.

Mura said the rule was still under a 45-day public comment review. When asked whether he thought the coal industry would benefit from these proposed changes, the spokesperson had no comment.

A spokesperson for LG&E and KU Energy LLC sent a statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence that said the company "is in favor of state regulations that would match up with new federal EPA regulations which were designed to be more protective of the environment, which is what the state has proposed. We are committed to the protection of the public and environment as we comply with state and federal requirements."