This week West Virginia senators introduced separate disapproval measures to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions rules, which they said would be harmful to the Mountain State.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act concerning the EPA’s new coal-fired plants rule, which he described as “anti-coal.”
The resolution, which was introduced with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., aims to overturn the agency’s regulations to cut carbon emissions, which led to a number of power plants being decommissioned.
“I have vowed to do everything I can to fight to protect the people and the communities of West Virginia, which have been absolutely devastated by this administration’s overreaching rules on the coal industry,” Manchin said in a statement.
The Congressional Review Act provides Congress the ability to eliminate regulations through an expedited procedure for consideration in the Senate.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulations, which seek an overall emissions reduction of 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, were published in the Federal Register last week.
The announcement, pages and pages, said a majority of the coal-burning plants are outdated and old. Of the 983 coal-fired units operating as of December 2014, 63 percent are at least 40 years old, according to the Sierra Club. Some were built when Eisenhower was president from 1953-1961, the environmental organization found.
Power plants are being decommissioned and “thousands of West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs and are now struggling to make ends meet and our families and businesses are now facing electricity bills that are through the roof...,” Manchin said in a statement.
Thursday, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., stood in the well of the Senate to state her disapproval of the Clean Power Plan regulations for new power sources. Earlier this week, Capito introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA’s regulations for existing power sources. She was joined by 48 other senators, including Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
“Today I rise on behalf of West Virginia workers, families and communities and all hard-working Americans who will bear the burden of these erroneous carbon mandates,” Capito said. “The bipartisan resolution of disapproval that I have introduced with my colleagues, Sen. Heitkamp ... and 47 other co-sponsors, will block the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations targeting existing power sources.”
Tuesday she said the resolution gives Congress the opportunity to voice opposition to the administration’s plans. “There is a reason that 26 states have already filed lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan — this impractical rule fails to consider the costs to American families, communities and jobs. It is time to send a clear signal that across-the-board regulations from Washington are not the best way forward,” she said.
The one-paragraph, 43-word joint resolution states that Congress disapproves of the EPA’s submitted Clean Power Plan rules “and such shall have force or effect.”
Both senators have long fought the Clean Power Plan rules. As early as May 2014, then-Congresswoman Capito sent the Obama administration a letter urging the EPA to consider the impact that its proposed coal plant rule will have on West Virginia. People “want to go to work, provide for their families, and produce affordable energy that powers our economy. I urge you to think of the impact that higher electricity prices will have on senior citizens and others on fixed incomes. I urge you to step back and listen to the voices of those who will be harmed the most by the EPA’s rule making and avoid proposing a rule that will destroy economic opportunity in West Virginia and across our country,” reads Capito’s letter.
Capito invited the EPA and administration officials to visit the coalfields and people of West Virginia to understand the effect the plan would have on the state.
To date, there have been no takers.