Sen. Capito to Target ‘Anti-Coal’ Regs at Field Hearing

West Virginia's junior senator will hold a field hearing tomorrow in Logan, W.Va., to examine the local impacts of U.S. EPA's carbon regulations.

The panel marks the second time Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who holds the gavel on the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, has invited coal industry representatives to her home turf to talk about how the rules affect their industry.

"Not only is coal needed to meet the demands of powering the nation, it also provides a way of life for families and communities across southern West Virginia where diminishing jobs and revenue have created dire circumstances," Capito said today.

Tomorrow, West Virginians will share how they have been affected by the Obama administration's "anti-coal regulations," including U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, and "discuss the local impacts of the ongoing assault on affordable, reliable energy," Capito added.

The hearing comes one week after oral arguments in the massive lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan were held in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Greenwire, Sept. 27).

Capito and other Appalachian politicians have complained for years that EPA favored metropolitan areas far from coal fields for listening sessions on climate regulations, including the embattled plan for reducing emissions from the power sector. According to EPA, the meeting locations were linked to the agency's regional headquarters, located in or near major cities.

The panel of witnesses includes a coal miner who lost his job as a maintenance planner just over a year ago and a county commissioner who will talk about the difficulties in maintaining school infrastructure, ambulance services and other general county operations in the face of slashed budgets from lost tax revenues, according to Republicans.

Democrats have invited the head of Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods, a nonprofit group working closely with community groups and municipalities to lead the state's transition to clean power. Supporters of the Clean Power Plan say it would spur investment in renewable energy.

An attorney who represents the United Mine Workers of America will focus on the projected impact of the Clean Power Plan on West Virginia, including a cumulative loss of $47 billion of state economic output, according to GOP staff.

James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at West Virginia University College of Law, told Greenwire his prepared testimony would briefly touch on the current litigation, which he expects will likely resolve most of the legal issues regarding the validity of the regulation.

"But even if the Clean Power Plan is ultimately struck down, the guidance provided by the court decision will result in a 'new and improved' form of carbon regulation," Nostrand, a witness invited by Democrats, plans to say.

West Virginia policymakers in recent years generally have moved in the wrong direction to position the state for compliance with the Clean Power Plan and, more broadly, for the state to participate in the clean energy transformation that is underway nationally, Nostrand argues. He will bolster the case that compliance is going to stimulate economic opportunities.

Capito will stream the hearing live on her YouTube channel.

By:  Hannah Hess
Source: E&E News