"Kentucky Republicans Split Over Renewed Law to Prop Up Costly Coal Plants"

"The billionaire-backed law shows the hold coal has over Kentucky".

"Last month, one of the nation’s top Republican donors became a flashpoint in a debate over the outsized power coal has in the state of Kentucky.

A few weeks before Kentucky’s legislative session ended, GOP members were pushing to pass Senate Bill 349. The law would make it even harder to retire coal plants long past their fiscal prime. The bill’s cosponsor, Senator Robby Mills, said the new bill would make sure a utility couldn’t decommission a fossil generator “until a replacement unit is fully constructed, permitted, and in operation.” Last year, Mills pushed through a painfully similar bill that copied legislation in other coal states like West Virginia and Wyoming to keep zombie plants alive as long as possible.

At one point during the debate over the bill, Representative Josie Raymond, a Democrat from Louisville, asked: “Who is Joe Craft?”

Tittering overtook those in attendance. “Irrelevant,” Representative David Osborne, the House Speaker, eventually said.

Joe Craft is the CEO and president of a coal company that is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma: Alliance Resource Partners. But he is from Kentucky and meddles in the Commonwealth’s politics. Last year, his wife, Kelly Craft, ran for governor and set a record for the most money spent on a primary race, $10 million, financed overwhelmingly through her personal loans. She used the money to blanket the airwaves with pro-coal and anti-DEI education messages but ultimately failed to secure the Republican nomination."

Austyn Gaffney reports for Sierra magazine May 6, 2024.

Source: Sierra, 05/07/2024