Late yesterday, Matt Bevin, who takes office as Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky today, announced the appointment of Charles G. Snavely as Secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. Snavely formerly served as President of Eastern U.S. Operations for Arch Coal, Inc. and, prior to that, as Executive Vice President of Mining Operations for International Coal Group. Snavely takes office immediately.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet includes the Department for Environmental Protection, Department for Natural Resources and Department for Energy Development and Independence, although it is within the power of the Governor to restructure Cabinets. In his new role, Secretary Snavely will oversee implementation of all state environmental protection programs as well as certain federal environmental programs including: the federal Clean Air Act Title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit programs (except in the Louisville metro area, where the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District is the regulatory authority), the Clean Water Act “NPDES” wastewater discharge permit program, and the regulation of hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Snavely replaces Dr. Len Peters, who was appointed by outgoing Democratic Governor Steve Beshear in 2008. Secretary Peters submitted his resignation to the Governor in early November although he had already included a departure letter in the October issue of the Cabinet’s magazine.
Peters has stated that he believes the most pressing challenge that will face the new Secretary is the creation of Kentucky’s compliance plan required under the federal Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan, published in the Federal Register on Oct. 23, 2015, establishes guidelines that states must apply to achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel fired power plants. Under the direction of exiting Attorney General Jack Conway, Kentucky has joined 26 other states in litigation challenging the federal Clean Power Plan rulemaking and, in 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted HB 388 (codified at KRS 224.20-140 to 224.20-146), which places limits on the plan the Cabinet can propose. Peters has publicly advocated for moving forward with the preparation of Kentucky’s state compliance plan (currently due September 2016) as being in the best interest of the Commonwealth.