Listening tour: EPA should come to W.Va.

November 10, 2013

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is asking new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to include the Mountain State on the EPA’s Listening Tour. We see no reason why McCarthy should decline this invitation, particularly in light of how new federal EPA regulations will impact West Virginia.

Morrisey extended the invitation to McCarthy Tuesday. The purpose of the EPA’s so-called tour is to receive public input as it relates to proposed carbon emissions. And this is a topic of particular interest to the coalfields of West Virginia, as well as neighboring Southwest Virginia.

Morrisey correctly argues that the opinions of residents in the Mountain State deserve to be heard when it comes to the proposed carbon emission regulations, and how they will affect communities that still mine coal.

“While the citizens of Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City deserve to give input on these new regulations and EPA policies, people in communities like Logan, Fairmont and Moundsville also need to be given a chance to voice their thoughts,” Morrisey said in the letter to McCarthy. “West Virginia is the second largest producer of coal in the nation. These new EPA regulations greatly affect our communities, and Mountain State citizens’ opinions deserve to be considered.”

At the moment, the EPA has inexplicably limited the tour to 11 large cities, such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Seattle, while not including locations like West Virginia that would be hardest hit by these regulations. Excluding West Virginia from the listening tour is not a simple mistake. It’s an obvious political move that won’t fool many in the Mountain State.

Morrisey said the Office of the Attorney General is willing to assist the EPA in helping to set up an event in West Virginia if the agency decides to expand the number of stops on the Listening Tour.

“For too long, the EPA has overlooked the real work and human side of their regulations, opting instead to just look at the potential outcomes,” Morrisey said. “I believe it is important for someone from the EPA to come to West Virginia and hear from local residents why coal is important, and must remain an important part of our nation’s energy portfolio.”

We agree. But we would be shocked if McCarthy accepted Morrisey’s invitation. For the past six years, the Obama administration-led EPA has initiated policies that hurt West Virginia. And we expect this will continue, particularly in light of the crippling new carbon regulations proposed by Obama earlier this year. The new rule would limit carbon emissions from gas-or coal-fired power plants, and essentially prevent the construction of new coal-fired plants.

“If a coal mine is shuttered, in part, due to onerous and impractical regulations, it can destroy the fabric of several towns or an entire county,” Morrisey correctly adds. “I think it’s important for the EPA at least to look in the eyes of the men and women whose lives could be dramatically changed forever because of these proposed regulations and give them the courtesy of hearing their opinion.”

We agree. And common sense would dictate that McCarthy should schedule one if not multiple listening tours in both West Virginia and Virginia. But the political reality of the situation is that Morrisey’s invitation will be ignored. And that’s a shame.

— Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

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