MORGANTOWN – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito held one of her regular virtual conversations with members of the West Virginia press at the end of last week, covering such issues as inflation and permitting reform.

“This week has really highlighted what I see is one of the grave concerns that I get from West Virginians, which is all these price hikes,” she said. “Any time you get a raise in this country, it’s wiped out by inflation.” Inflation is at 13%, with food, home energy and pretty much everything else costing more.

“Yet we see the president spend, spend, spend,” she said, which feeds inflation. She hopes he addresses that in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

President Biden has followed in the footsteps of President Obama by changing the definition of water, widening federal oversight of bodies of water across the country through the proposed Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule.

GOP members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – where Capito is ranking member – said in a handout, “The revised WOTUS rule substantially expands federal jurisdiction over streams and wetlands, and encroaches on states’ authorities to regulate land and water within their borders.”

On Thursday, Capito led her 48 Senate GOP colleagues in introducing a formal challenge to the WOTUS rule through a Congressional Review Act joint resolution of disapproval. CRA are a means to take down objectional federal regulations, she said.

The rule will add to permitting expense and time for farmers, ranchers developers and road builders, among others, she said. “This administration, to no surprise, has gone way, way far in terms of defining what water is.”

A reporter asked Capito what she and her GOP colleagues can do about inflation, until the balance of power changes, adding that the president is detached from the facts.

She answered that with a divided Congress they actually have a better chance to ask him to wake up. A major part of inflation is his shutting down domestic baseline energy supplies, along with three recent Democrat spending bills amounting to trillions of dollars.

But, with a split Congress, “I think we have a better chance there to have a reasonable compromise.” Nothing will get done without compromise.

Another question dealt with permitting reform, an issue important to Capito and her colleague Sen. Joe Manchin. Previous efforts have failed, including their desire to complete the Moutain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.

This time the work will begin in the House. “We’re hopeful that the House will include this,” she said, But there are many other projects on hold across the country, so loading it up with specifics could bog it down.

But she will be meeting with House colleagues on permitting reform and it can be hammered out in committees, she said. Expediting permitting affects all forms of energy, including renewables.

The talk wrapped up with a brief discussion of the record profits of top energy companies even as people suffered at the gas pumps.

Capito acknowledged those numbers but cautioned that the Biden administration has pushed back new exploration and development, leading those already developing to get bigger profits because of short supplies. If the administration would open the spigot, prices could go down, she said. All developers, big and small, should be able to participate.