The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 4, 2014

Pollution plan shows no love for Mountain State

Everyone knew President Barack Obama was going to be introducing a politically charged plan Monday to order big and lasting cuts in the pollution discharged by America’s power plants.

But seeing the plan, or reading it, is something else. It is quite disheartening to coal-producing states such as West Virginia.

Everything is certainly not all spelled out yet. Obama’s plan has more than 600 pages, and we doubt if anyone has gone through everything on those pages to see exactly what the president might be wanting. The plan has been described as being ambitious in scope, and that it is. But most people realize that if it ever is fully realized, it will be long after Obama’s successor takes office, and perhaps his successor, too.

His proposal is to force a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030 from the levels in 2005.

Obama’s plans certainly reveal, as if anyone had any doubt, that the president apparently does not care for coal at all.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin continues to be West Virginia’s biggest voice fighting for the coal industry. Manchin, of course, also belongs to Obama’s party, and politics certainly seem to be playing a major role here.

“The EPA has proposed rules that are not based on any existing technology that has been proven on a commercial scale,” Manchin said. “That is why we must continue to invest in innovative technologies, including clean coal and natural gas technologies, to ensure our energy supply remains accessible, affordable and reliable for all Americans. Our great country should be a leader in developing the technologies so that we can export them to the world, but it is unreasonable to require the use of technologies that do not yet work at the commercial scale.

“I have said again and again that government needs to work as an ally, not as an adversary, when it comes to developing our nation’s energy policies. I stand ready to work with this Administration and the EPA to develop common sense solutions that strike a balance between a prosperous economy and a cleaner environment,” the senator said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin offered similar criticism.

“The EPA’s new rules are an extensive 645 pages long and at first glance, there are several proposals that cause us great concern,” Tomblin said. “If these rules are put into place, our manufacturers may be forced to look overseas for more reasonable energy costs, taking good paying jobs with them and leaving hardworking West Virginians without jobs to support their families. We must make every effort to create opportunities for our young people, not hinder them.”

As The Associated Press pointed out, Democrats and Republicans may agree on little else in the nation’s No. 2 coal-producing state, which also gets almost all its power from coal, but opposition to the EPA plan is bipartisan. Tomblin says none of the state’s coal plants is close to meeting the proposed standard, although companies say they’re cutting emissions.

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Opinion
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