Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., grew defensive about her home state when asking an administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency why the Mountain State was excluded from public hearings on climate rules.
During a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Janet McCabe, told Capito West Virginia was excluded from hearings on the EPA's proposed climate rules because locations were chosen based on “where people were comfortable coming.”
McCabe's response after Capito asked why her home state wasn't a stop on their visits was “We did have a lot of meetings around the country. We met in many states. We tried to, when we were scheduling national level meetings, we wanted to have those in locations where people were comfortable coming. We used a lot of EPA offices because that's...”
A distraught Capito said the answer was not good enough.
"That's not really a great answer there. I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but I don't think it's a great answer,” Capito said in response. “You can get to West Virginia. We're not that isolated. It's a beautiful spot. This heavily impacts, heavily impacts the economics of our state. Our ability to compete.”
Capito said, in a statement issued by her office after the meeting, she was “appalled” by the administrators comments.
“I'm appalled by the EPA's refusal to hold a public hearing in West Virginia – the second largest coal producing state in America – because it wasn't deemed 'comfortable' enough,” Capito's statement said. “Regardless of whether or not EPA officials feel ‘comfortable' facing the thousands of West Virginia coal miners whose livelihoods are threatened by these proposed rules, West Virginians deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard. Once again, I invite EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Administrator McCabe to visit West Virginia and see first-hand how these regulations will impact our economy, our communities, and even our neighboring states who depend on West Virginia coal to keep the lights on.”
Capito also asked what would happen if states refused to submit a plan to remain in-line with federal regulations. She said 32 states have taken issue with the rule.
McCabe said if a state does not submit a plan or submits a plan that is not "approvable" by the rule's standards, the EPA would put in place a federal plan to implement obligations finalized in the rule.