CHARLESTON – Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and Speaker of the House Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today pledged to continue defending West Virginia's coal industry after President Obama unveiled the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.
The plan uses state-specific targets to reduce emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from levels recorded in 2005. It mandates that states begin complying with the new regulations by 2022.
House Bill 2004, which was signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in March, requires the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to submit a report to the Legislature within 180 days of the final rule regarding the feasibility of complying with the new standards, and provides that any State Implementation Plan submitted to EPA must be approved by the Legislature.
"The release of President Obama's Clean Power Plan today is sadly something that we have anticipated for years," Senate President Cole said. "That's why we took bold, decisive steps in passing House Bill 2004, which provides an additional layer of protection against the relentless attacks on West Virginia's coal fields. The Legislature absolutely will not approve any State Implementation Plan that will cause more harm, and bring more job losses, to our state's coal industry."
Speaker Armstead echoed that commitment.
"The Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan is another blow to hard working West Virginians who rely on coal-fired power plants for their jobs and livelihood. President Obama, when he was running for President, pledged that if companies continued to rely on coal-fired energy it would bankrupt them. This plan is the latest step in the Obama administration's pledge to bankrupt the coal industry," Speaker Armstead said. "Sadly, on the very day that the Obama administration released another round of over-reaching regulations that will further harm our vital coal industry, one of West Virginia's leading coal producers announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection."
"Under the EPA’s new plan, West Virginia, along with other energy producing states, is directed to develop a plan that will impose self-inflicted damage on our state’s struggling economy," Armstead continued. "All leaders of our state will need to carefully consider whether West Virginia should submit a State Implementation Plan as required by the Clean Power Plan or instead take other steps to fight this latest round of federal overreach."