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State lawmakers pass bill to prevent authorities from issuing fines against self-reporting polluters: 'This law will disincentivize industries'

"It'll also further harm our environmental health."

"It'll also further harm our environmental health."

Photo Credit: iStock

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a concerning bill in January that would prevent Louisville's air pollution authority from fining industries that self-report violations of federal pollution regulations.

The legislation has sparked worries that it could weaken accountability for big polluters in the state's largest city, according to the Kentucky Lantern.

What's happening?

House Bill 136, sponsored by Rep. Jared Bauman, would put the Louisville Air Pollution Control District (APCD) under a statewide law that allows industrial polluters to avoid penalties if they voluntarily disclose air pollution violations and fix the issue.

Currently, air pollution is regulated this way by the state in all Kentucky counties except Jefferson County, which the APCD oversees separately. HB 136 passed the House in an 80–14 vote.

Why is HB 136 concerning?

If the bill becomes law, it could incentivize industries to cut corners when it comes to preventing toxic pollution. After all, why invest in proper pollution controls if you can just fess up after the fact and get off scot-free?

"This law will disincentivize industries from taking steps to eliminate violations seeing that they won't face a penalty," Rep. Chad Aull said on the House floor. "It'll also further harm our environmental health in the largest community in the commonwealth." 

We should be holding companies accountable for endangering public health and our environment — not giving them a free pass. Air pollution takes a major toll, not the least of which is triggering asthma attacks in kids.

Jefferson County residents deserve to breathe clean air.

What's being done about HB 136?

It's not all bad news. Rep. Rachel Roarx added an amendment saying repeat offenders could still face fines from the APCD if they have a pattern of violations over five years. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

More broadly, Louisvillians can make their voices heard by calling their state senators and asking them to oppose HB 136. 

Luckily, it's easier than ever these days to go green in our own lives too. Every time you walk, bike, or take the bus instead of driving, you help keep the air cleaner for everyone. Energy-efficient appliances and clean electricity plans also go a long way. Together, we can all do our part to create healthier communities and a safer climate.

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