The Times West Virginian

March 5, 2014

House Resolution asks EPA to take coal-producing states and their needs into account

By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Monday the West Virginia House of Delegates unanimously adopted House Resolution 13, which asks the EPA to take coal-producing states and their particular energy and economic needs and priorities into account when developing and setting new carbon dioxide emissions guidelines.

House Majority Whip Mike Caputo, D-Marion, lead sponsor for the resolution, stated that, while he agrees that decreasing carbon emissions is a good goal, he’s concerned that the EPA may be moving too fast for the industry to keep up.

“We’ve just been having so much trouble with carbon regulations for existing power plants, and I truly believe that it could hurt the affordability and viability of electricity, and could result in substantial job losses,” Caputo said. “My fear is that if we move too fast that a lot of people will lose their jobs, so this resolution is to make a statement to ask the EPA to issue standards that are something that everybody can live with.”

Caputo said that, as a state with a long history with the coal and energy industry, any changes in emissions regulations could have a big impact on the state economy.

“It is our major industry here in the state of West Virginia,” Caputo said. “I’ve been in the coal industry for 37 years, and for every coal mining job, several others spin off. It goes from people who work in machine shops down to the individual who runs the corner store. It’s a big part of our economic engine. We just cannot watch that whither away.”

He stated that while progress has been made in reducing pollution, more work needs to be done.

“We have come a long, long way since I was a little boy,” Caputo said. “We need to continue that effort, but we need to not move so fast that we outpace the technology that’s available and affordable.

“Carbon capture and sequestration are being developed, and I would like for them to continue to be developed, but it is not commercially available or affordable at this time.”

Local Delegates Linda Longstreth and Tim Manchin, both D-Marion, were among the resolution’s many cosponsors.

Kevin J. Craig, D-Cabell, chair of the Energy Committee, voiced his support for the resolution.

“It certainly sends a strong, clear message to the Environmental Protection Agency that states have a right to and need a say as we draft energy policy for our country,” Craig said. “We should be consulted and have a voice in this process.”

The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) International President Cecil E. Roberts voiced his organization’s support for the resolution in a statement released Tuesday, also criticizing the EPA’s approach toward regulation creation.

“Rather than base its regulations on carbon capture technologies that may exist in the future, the EPA should take an approach reflecting the real-world impact its rules will have on coalfield communities today,” Roberts said.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.