CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the Southern States Energy Board have pledged to have one voice aimed toward Washington and the federal EPA on the issue of coal.
West Virginia House of Delegates Finance Committee Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, just returned from the energy board’s annual meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. He said the board talked about all forms of energy but spent most of its time on coal and the current struggles.
“Our state budgets are being put in a very difficult situation and I think by banding together and working jointly—sometimes you have to set aside across-state-line differences to work jointly and be more effective,” Boggs said.
Coal production is down with the uncertainty caused by EPA regulations. West Virginia continues to fall short of revenue estimates in severance tax collections. Boggs expects the next state budget to be the tightest in his 18-year legislative career.
The EPA came out with a new regulation recently that opponents say will make it nearly impossible to build coal-fired power plants in the future.
Boggs said the 16 energy board states have their work cut out for them but they don’t plan on quitting.
“When it comes to the security of our country and the economies of our states and the jobs, I really don’t think you ever say ‘enough is enough,’” Boggs said. “I think we need to stay in the game, keep hammering, keep pounding. The most dangerous thing we can do right now is to let our guard down, throw up our hands and give up.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is scheduled to be the chairman of the Southern Energy Board in 2015.