W.Va. reps pan new EPA regulations

PARKERSBURG – Four members of the West Virginia congressional delegation panned the Environmental Protection Agency’s new performance standards for emissions as another attack upon the coal industry.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Nick Rahall said the standards will kill the industry. Sen. Jay Rockefeller did not denounce the standards.

The agency Friday released its new source performance standards which will require coal plants to follow nearly the same emissions for cleaner-burning natural gas.

“Today’s announcement of the EPA’s new source performance standard is direct evidence that this administration is trying to hold the coal industry to impossible standards,” Manchin said. “Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible. Forcing coal to meet the same emissions standards as gas when experts know that the required technology is not operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense and will have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy.”

The new standards are part of President Obama’s unilateral climate control initiatives he announced this summer. Under the proposed standards on greenhouse-gas emissions, new coal-fired power plants will be limited to carbon emissions below 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour. New natural-gas plants will be allowed to emit no more than 1,000 pounds.

“If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow,” Manchin said. “We need the federal government to work as a partner, not an adversary, and to invest in America’s energy future.

The standards would effectively prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants, Rahall said.

“This callous, ideologically driven agency continues to be numb to the economic pain that their reckless regulations cause,” he said.

Rahall Friday introduced House Concurrent Resolution 57 to express the sense of Congress that the Agency’s new rule would be harmful to the economy and America’s energy security.

The regulations are aimed at killing American coal, McKinley said.

“The Obama Administration and EPA have imposed revised regulations on new coal-fired power plants that, simply put, cannot be achieved,” McKinley, an engineer, said. “The technology required by this rule is not commercially viable. Even the EPA has admitted this.”

Despite that, the EPA proposed the regulations, he said.

“Regulations based on ideology and imposing standards on coal plants that they admit can’t be achieved is not fair,” McKinley said. “As a result of these extensive regulations, manufacturers will continue to locate elsewhere where energy costs are more affordable and dependable; and Americans can expect to pay more for their electric bills.”

Capito also introduced a bill to block the standards, the Reliable and Affordable American Energy Act.

“EPA’s action strikes at the core of West Virginia and is yet another sign that this Administration simply doesn’t care about the hard working men and women who earn their living in the coal industry, doesn’t care about providing reliable and affordable energy to power the national economy for years to come, and doesn’t care about harming the very fabric of communities across our state.

While Rockefeller didn’t refute the standards, he called them a “daunting task.” Standards must have at their core the interests of miners and their families, he said.

“The EPA’s new carbon emission plan includes tough requirements for future coal-fired power plants and pushes us hard toward clean coal technologies that have great potential but are not yet deployed at full-scale, and are difficult to finance,” Rockefeller said. “These rules will only work if we act now to strengthen our investment in clean coal technology and to advance public-private partnerships more seriously than ever. We need everyone with a stake in clean coal to come together for these solutions to become a reality.

“This rule is undeniably a daunting challenge, but it’s also a call to action. West Virginia and America have overcome far greater technological obstacles than this one, and I refuse to believe we can’t do it again,” he said.