03.23.15

Capito Statement on Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Field Hearing in Beckley, West Virginia

“While it may be uncomfortable for EPA officials to face the coal miners whose very livelihoods are threatened by these misguided regulations, West Virginians deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, today chaired a field hearing in Beckley, West Virginia regarding the impact of EPA carbon regulations in the nation’s second largest coal producing state.

Ahead of the hearing, Senator Capito penned an op-ed, “Hearing offers West Virginians a platform to make voices heard,” in The Beckley Register-Herald. Read it here.

Senator Capito’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you all for being here today. A special thank you to our witnesses for coming to Beckley and to Congressman Jenkins for joining me. This is the first hearing I have chaired back home in West Virginia as a U.S. Senator, but it will not be the last.

“Last month, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe came before the Environment and Public Works Committee to discuss the agency’s proposed carbon regulations for new and existing power plants. I asked her to explain why the EPA did not hold a public hearing on its proposed climate rules in West Virginia, despite the large role coal has in our economy and the multiple invitations by federal and state legislators.

“I was shocked, and frankly, appalled by her response.

“She told me public hearings were held where agency officials were ‘comfortable’ going.

“While it may be uncomfortable for EPA officials to face the coal miners whose livelihoods are threatened by these misguided regulations, West Virginians deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard.

“This is why I am here today, holding a field hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is being live streamed on the Committee website.

“EPA will hear the voices of West Virginians on the devastating impact of their regulations on the just under two million, hard-working West Virginians who receive 95 percent of their electricity from coal-fired power plants.

“The West Virginia coal industry supports families, strengthens national security and affordably powers not only my state, but provides affordable electricity to our neighbors—West Virginia exports more than half of the electricity we produce to neighboring states.

“Just last week, AEP issued WARN notices to employees at three West Virginia power plants—the Kanawha River Plant in Glasgow, the Philip Sporn Plant in New Haven and the Kammer Plant near Moundsville. All three plants will close within two months. These closures are years ahead of schedule, and the early closures are because of the impact of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxins (MATS) rule.

“The upcoming EPA regulations for carbon emissions from power plants that we are here to examine today will have an even more devastating impact.

“I have grave concerns about these proposed regulations. I am concerned about their cost—the cost to the taxpayer and cost to the bill payer. Numerous studies by well-respected economic analysis firms make clear that the EPA grossly under-estimated the costs. Findings from these reports show costs could get up to $479 billion over a 15-year period while causing double digit electricity price increases in 43 states.

“Over half of our country’s power comes from coal; yet, EPA has gone so far as to ‘predict,’ that by effectively eliminating one-half of our energy generation, we will reduce average electricity prices by 8 percent. That simply does not add up.

“Here in West Virginia, our monthly electrical bills are roughly 23 percent cheaper than the national average because our coal is cheap, reliable and plentiful.

“I am also very concerned that, in formulating these regulations, EPA has not considered the impact on the reliability of our electricity grid. That is one of the reasons I am pleased to have Charles Patton from Appalachian Power as one of our witnesses. He can speak to the direct impact that EPA regulations have on our ability to keep the lights on.

“EPA doesn’t have a great track record here. Look at the Mercury and Air Toxins, or MATS, rule. EPA predicted this regulation would result in the closure of about 5,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Instead, the Department of Energy now says that between 50,000 and 60,000 megawatts of generating capacity will be taken offline. That’s a huge mistake that would have serious consequences.

“It’s not the EPA bureaucrats that have to deal with these consequences of a miscalculation. It’s the small business owners, like Mr. Chuck Farmer, who will bear the brunt of increased electricity prices on his business operations that not only impact him and his family, but his employees, their families and the surrounding community. It’s the United Mine Workers of America that Mr. Trisko is here to represent who will bear the brunt of the President’s ongoing war against coal.

“Only at a government agency, run be unelected bureaucrats would it make sense to impose regulations that cost billions of dollars, increase the costs of electricity, negatively impact grid reliability, undermine global competiveness and kill jobs.

“Concerning is that estimated emissions growth from China and India render any of these perceived ‘benefits’ pointless.

“President Obama is rushing through extreme environmental initiatives without regard for the real-life consequences. Today we are beginning to talk about these economic impacts, to families here, where the impact is felt and our communities are impacted.”

Witnesses at the field hearing, “Regional Impacts of EPA Carbon Regulations: The Case of West Virginia,” include Eugene M. Trisko, Attorney at Law on behalf of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Charles Patton, President and Chief Operating Officer, Appalachian Power; Chuck Farmer, President, Rouster Wire, Rope, and Rigging; James M. Van Nostrand, Associate Professor, Director, Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, West Virginia University College of Law; and L. Jeremy Richardson, Ph.D., Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists.

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