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A Leading Role For Coal

Rocky Adkins has a unique and effective way to talk about coal.

On that powerfully divisive energy issue for Kentucky, the Majority Leader for the state House of Representatives speaks and acts in ways that bring both sides together.

The profile in The Future of Electricity column describes Adkins’ work to bring research to Kentucky on developing carbon capture and storage. That unproven technology to capture greenhouse gas from coal-burning electric plants, and store it permanently underground, is a key part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s plan for any future coal-fired plant.

But Adkins is best known as a passionate advocate for Kentucky coal, even going so far as to criticize the national coal industry for not speaking up more strongly in favor of using coal to generate electricity.

Adkins articulates many of the reasons electric co-ops say should be considered by the EPA in its proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gases. He cites the development that has come to Kentucky’s economy as a result of its electricity rates that are much lower than the national average. He worries about the hardship on people and businesses in the state that could be caused by higher-cost fuels.

The EPA is still in the process of developing those rules, so electric co-ops are asking their members to register their opinion, by going online to, where you can send a comment to the EPA.

While energy and the environment are often seen as being at odds with each other, Adkins sees a chance for Kentucky to lead the world in finding solutions that work for everyone.

Adkins observes that in the past three decades the United States has reduced emissions from coal power plants by 80 percent, leading the world in burning coal with fewer emissions.

Adkins hopes Kentucky can continue that progress to become an example of how to develop energy and improve the environment.

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