Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito teamed up with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky Monday to introduce proposed legislation that could force the Environmental Protection Agency to back off what the lawmakers called overzealous coal restrictions.
Capito and McConnell are sponsoring the Coal Jobs Protection Act. They made the announcement in McConnell’s home state Monday afternoon in Hazard, considered Kentucky “coal country.”
Capito said working with the Obama EPA and its ever-changing policies against coal has been exhausting. She said not only has the agency shot down reasonable requirements, they’ve also “slow walked” permits through the system in hopes investors would lose interest and give up on funding them.
“I’ve been very frustrated with the administration and the slow war on coal that we see,” Capito said. “It’s harming our jobs and our economy and our energy economy.”
She said the proposed legislation puts the EPA in its place.
“It would reign in some of the out of control decisions that the EPA has made and it will give the responsibility, some of it, back to the state’s where legally it is supposed to be.”
Capito cited the recent ruling by a federal appeals court to pull the water permit from the Spruce No. 1 surface mine in Logan County. She called it a perfect example of why there needs to be some set rules and guidelines the EPA must follow.
“[The proposed bill] says if you grant a permit, the Corp of Engineers grants a permit, and works on it for four years, you can’t just arbitrarily rescind that,” Capito said.
She criticized the EPA for changing rules midstream and called for a defined timeline that everyone, including the EPA, must follow. She says the Coal Jobs Protection Act would do that.
“It says, if you’re going to make decisions based on regulations, they have to go through the regulatory procedure because the EPA is evading that requirement,” Capito said.
The House has passed similar legislation to the Coal Jobs Protection Act in the past. Capito vowed to make sure this bill gets the necessary support.
“I’m chair of the Coal Caucus. We have over 70 members. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of our members, if not all of them, on board with us on this one,” the congresswoman said.
The challenge may be getting enough Senate support. However, Capito expresssed confidence McConnell has the connections to help make this proposal law.