Rep. Evan Jenkins joined a chorus of Republican lawmakers Tuesday bemoaning the Environmental Protection Agency’s policies concerning coal and the impact those regulations are having on local economies.
Jenkins joined other coal-state Republicans in grilling EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, as she appeared before the House Appropriations sub-committee to defend the agency’s 2017 budget request, which includes an additional $50 million to implement the Clean Power Plan.
Carbon dioxide emission reduction plans are having a devastating impact on the coalfields of West Virginia, Jenkins told the EPA head.
“Coal jobs provide a true, living wage that support a family. Coal jobs also come with really good benefits — a pension and health care benefits a retiree can count on. But not anymore. The bankruptcies of our country’s largest coal companies have left pensioners and widows desperate for help. And because of your actions, West Virginia now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the entire country,” Jenkins said.
McCarthy defended the agency’s placing limits on emissions from electric generating power plants, many of which are switching from coal to natural gas, a cheaper, cleaner source.
“We are not looking to preclude coal from being part of the energy system, and indeed, we project that it will continue to be,” she’s quoted in The Hill. “But we do believe that facilities can comply, and we think that states will be able to meet the requirements under the Clean Power Plan.”
Jenkins read several letters southern West Virginians have written to his office. The letters are from a McDowell County business owner struggling to pay bills or order new stock, a Boone County mother lamenting that her son’s elementary school is shuttering because the county cannot afford to keep it open, and a parent from Mercer County asking if there is a future in West Virginia for her family.
“‘Like every family that depends on coal for a living, we live day to day worrying about what will happen tomorrow. You can’t plan for the future because of the uncertainty. We love our state, but how does one stay here and survive if the jobs aren’t there?'” Jenkins read from a letter penned by April Brooks of Mercer County.
The common theme of the letters was how various forces have tried to to stop the coal industry and its employees from making a living.
“This Congress is trying its best to stop your agenda — an ideologically driven agenda hell bent on shutting down the use of fossil fuels for energy production. We’ve used the power of the purse and included policy riders on funding bills. We’ve supported the legal challenges brought by a majority of the states, led by Democrats and Republicans alike, trying to stop your regulatory overreach,” Jenkins said to McCarthy.
In his opening, Jenkins asked McCarthy if she ever visited West Virginia as head of the EPA. She replied that she doesn’t believe so.
“Administrator, West Virginians are a proud people. We want to work. We want to provide a better future for our children. Let us do the work we have done for generations — work that provides good paychecks and keeps the lights on. And until you actually visit the coalfields of West Virginia, you will never understand the impact of your actions,” he said.
McCarthy said at the end of Jenkins statement that she will take visiting West Virginia “under consideration.”
See the article here.
- On March 23, 2016