Senate Hearing in W.Va. to Probe Climate Rule Impacts

U.S. senators who are technically on break until after the November elections will hold a hearing next week in West Virginia to get local input on federal climate standards for the power sector.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), head of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, will lead the field hearing Wednesday in Logan, a small city in the heart of mining country near the border with Kentucky.

Coal industry representatives invited by Republicans will testify alongside clean energy proponents invited by Democrats. Witnesses invited include a lawyer for the United Mine Workers; a coal miner from Delbarton, W.Va.; the Wayne County Commission president; the West Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods program director; and a law professor who heads a sustainable development center at the West Virginia University College of Law.

West Virginia's attorney general, Patrick Morrisey (R), is leading a 28-state challenge to U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, and earlier this week he warned of job losses his state could face if the rule moves forward despite court challenges.

After daylong oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuiton Tuesday, Capito said the regulation attempts to skirt the limits of the underlying statute, the Clean Air Act (E&E Daily, Sept. 28).

West Virginia uses almost all coal power. Its economy also largely relies on mining. The state would have to cut its rate of carbon emissions from power plants 37 percent below 2012 levels by 2030.

Environmental advocates have said West Virginia could ramp up solar power and energy efficiency efforts. They argue the benefits of the rule would outweigh the costs. Power companies operating in the state have said they would want to enter carbon trading systems to keep compliance costs down. They could then purchase allowances to keep some coal plants online while incentivizing more cleaner power overall.

Click here to read more about West Virginia and the Clean Power Plan.

By:  Emily Holden
Source: E&E News