West Virginia lawmakers and other state officials are responding to the filing of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power plan.
The final rule, submitted Monday, aims to cut carbon emissions at existing power plants in hopes to offset the effects of climate change.
The plan uses state-specific targets to reduce emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from levels recorded in 2005. It mandates that states begin complying with the new regulations by 2022.
To view the interim and final goals for carbon emissions in West Virginia "at a glance", see this PDF document from the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a news release Monday, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin noted the changes to the final rule and called the proposed regulations "unreasonable, unrealistic and ultimately unattainable" for West Virginia. He also noted state legislation passed during the 2015 session that deals with the rule.
"While those who employ our hardworking miners have urged us to refuse to submit a compliance plan, at this point West Virginia still has not determined whether it will submit any plan to the EPA.
"As required by House Bill 2004 passed by the Legislature this year, our Department of Environmental Protection will develop a detailed report for the Legislature that includes 'a comprehensive analysis of the effect of the Section 111(d) rule on the state.' In accordance with the new law this analysis, which could not begin until the EPA released its final rule, will be completed within 180 days.
"While the DEP works on the report required by the Legislature, we continue to review our legal options and are working to determine what a federally developed state implementation plan would involve. I appreciate the ongoing work of DEP Secretary Randy Huffman and his staff, who like me, are committed to putting the interests of West Virginians first."
Senate President Bill Cole:
"The release of President Obama's Clean Power Plan today is sadly something that we have anticipated for years. That's why we took bold, decisive steps in passing House Bill 2004, which provides an additional layer of protection against the relentless attacks on West Virginia's coal fields. The Legislature absolutely will not approve any State Implementation Plan that will cause more harm, and bring more job losses, to our state's coal industry."
House Speaker Tim Armstead:
"The Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan is another blow to hard working West Virginians who rely on coal-fired power plants for their jobs and livelihood. President Obama, when he was running for President, pledged that if companies continued to rely on coal-fired energy it would bankrupt them. This plan is the latest step in the Obama administration's pledge to bankrupt the coal industry. Sadly, on the very day that the Obama administration released another round of over-reaching regulations that will further harm our vital coal industry, one of West Virginia's leading coal producers announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection."
"Under the EPA’s new plan, West Virginia, along with other energy producing states, is directed to develop a plan that will impose self-inflicted damage on our state’s struggling economy. All leaders of our state will need to carefully consider whether West Virginia should submit a State Implementation Plan as required by the Clean Power Plan or instead take other steps to fight this latest round of federal overreach."
Rep. David McKinley tweeted a video from April 2015, where he questioned whether or not current climate change was a result of natural cycles or influence by humans.
— David B. McKinley (@RepMcKinley) August 3, 2015
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito remarked on a piece of federal legislation she is sponsoring known as the ARENA Act, which would roll back certain provisions of the Clean Power Plan.
“This administration continues to pick winners and losers within the nation’s energy landscape, and energy-producing states like West Virginia will be left to bear the burden as more power plants and mines are forced to close and more jobs are lost. Now that the Clean Power Plan is finalized, the need for congressional action is even more apparent, and I am pleased that the full committee will consider the ARENA Act this week.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:
Keep in mind: even the EPA has acknowledged that a literal reading of the Clean Air Act text prohibits their rule making. #stopthepowergrab
— Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) August 3, 2015
Pres. Obama is trying to convert EPA from an environmental regulator to a national, central energy planner. Fortunately, the law forbids it.
— Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) August 3, 2015
Rep. Evan Jenkins:
“Today’s rule is no surprise: It’s the continuation of this administration’s anti-coal, anti-West Virginia policies. Coal generates reliable, affordable energy while providing thousands of good-paying jobs for West Virginians. If this administration had its way, no coal would be mined in West Virginia, no miners would be employed, and no coal would be used for generating electricity.
“What this administration fails to see is the impact of their environmental policies on West Virginia. Power plants will shut down, raising the cost of electricity and threatening the ability of our grid to cope with winter storms and high demand. West Virginia coal miners will be unemployed, and families will struggle to make ends meet.
“Today’s announcement is another reason why we must fight the war on coal. It is imperative that Governor Tomblin stand with other governors and refuse to submit a plan to the EPA. I am proud to represent thousands of West Virginia coal miners, and I will continue to fight for them and their families in Congress.”
Sen. Joe Manchin:
“Our President and his Administration think our country can do without coal, and they are dead wrong. They are in denial. They deny the cold-hard fact that coal continues to generate almost 40 percent of the electricity in America, and it will play an essential role in our energy portfolio for the next thirty years. The EPA has flat out ignored the Department of Energy’s data that says coal will still produce more than 30 percent of our electricity through 2040. It is completely contradictory that the EPA continues to impose unreasonable and unattainable rules in an attempt to regulate coal into extinction. The people who suffer are our hard-working West Virginians and consumers across the country.
“This Administration’s demonization of coal has already devastated the coal mining industry in West Virginia and in energy-producing states across the country. Because of unattainable and unreasonable regulations, thousands of coal miners have been laid off in West Virginia alone, and more than 26 coal companies have filed for bankruptcy.
“The bottom line is this Administration has been utterly unrealistic when it comes to the role of coal in our energy future. Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically infeasible. By requiring the adoption of costly carbon capture and storage technologies that have not yet been proven commercially viable, the EPA is essentially setting a standard that is impossible to meet. Instead of working with energy-producing states like West Virginia to develop cleaner technology and partnering with the private sector to grow our energy economy, this Administration is picking winners and losers when it comes to our nation’s energy policy.
“I will continue to explore all available options to prevent these unattainable regulations from further crippling our energy production, jeopardizing our energy grid, and putting our workers out of good-paying jobs.”