CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An advocate for West Virginia’s low and middle income families along with other vulnerable populations says the Mountain State is at a crossroads now that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new emissions limits for existing coal-fired power plants.

Most state leaders have been quick to criticize the draft rule, since it was released publicly back on Monday, with many calling it “devastating” to West Virginia because of its impact on coal.

If implemented, it would cut carbon emissions from those coal-fired plants by a national average of 30 percent, compared with 2005 levels, before 2030.

“I think we all want to have a stronger economy and good paying jobs and a good place for our children to grow up in and, I think, addressing climate change is definitely part of that,” said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“I think it’s really important for West Virginia’s policymakers to be at the table instead of just putting all their energy into a toxic fight about the war on coal.”

State Attorney Patrick Morrisey, though, sees problems with the EPA’s proposed regulations. “This is something that is better debated in the halls of Congress and we’re certainly looking closely at the regulatory scheme because the impact to West Virginia is so severe,” Morrisey said.

The 645-page draft rule would give states differing deadlines and options for meeting emission-reduction targets that would also vary by state.

With that flexibility, states could, among other things, opt to meet their individualized targets by reducing energy demand through more efficiency programs, by utilizing solar energy, wind energy or natural gas more or by installing pollution-control technology.

After a preliminary review of the proposal, Morrisey said he does not think the Clean Air Act allows the EPA to regulate emissions from power plants or independently implement sweeping emissions limits. He said the proposal is also problematic because it’s being introduced before the regulations for emissions from new power plants have been finalized.

If the latest proposal is finalized next year as is, Morrisey said he will file a lawsuit on West Virginia’s behalf. “I think that it’s clear that, on its face, this is illegal and it has a very detrimental impact for West Virginia,” the attorney general said. “I believe that the EPA would fall in court if this gets tested.”

Four public hearings on the EPA’s proposed rule will be held during the week of July 28 in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., Denver, Co. and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Boettner said West Virginians have a choice to make. “You can put all this effort into a losing battle or you can be at that table making real changes that are going to lead to concrete things that could happen in West Virginia,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not doing that.”

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  • John of Wayne

    The best defense is a good offense. Yes, sue, sue, sue. Keep them so tied up with depositions, motions, etc. that all their time will be spent on their defense. It may at least keep them tied up enough to prevent them from doing more damage. If we can stave them off until the change of administration, perhaps this absurdity can be undone.

  • Wirerowe

    Boetner is very liberal but generally is a good thinker and from time to time comes up with some good ideas. I don't think in general he should be dismissed out of hand. It is good to have a counterbalance to business first at all costs. In this case his argument is absurd. The federal government is implementing a policy that has no to minimal impact on world wide CO 2 levels and will be devastating to the West Virginia economy and West Virginia utility rate payers and we should embrace that. His argument in this case is ridiculous and eats away at what credibility I previously had for him.

  • Proud Mountaineer

    Teddy Boettner may be a directer of a think tank, but he is hardly an intellectual force. I knew the man at WVU, and he would not be my go to guy on any important matters. Teddy simply spouts the extreme leftest talking point of the day. He sounds no different than Obama or Reid whenever I've read his comments.

    He is a nice enough guy and I wish him no ill will, but I can't understand what would qualify this guy as an "expert".

    • Aaron

      What qualifies him as an expert is the fact that he is about as extreme left as they come in West Virginia. I've seen him spout some pretty ridiculous stuff and when he's called on his views, he gets very offended. Not so surprisingly he fits in well with the Gazette staff.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    No! The Fed's have a weak case bypassing congress and such. Hell, why even have representation in Congress if the little man can do this. We just don't have to stand back and be bullied by a Socialist who takes the law into his own hands. Not only on this but all the other things he pushes through against good people. He needs sit down and sit down hard! We ain't gonna be treated this a way!

  • Pickle Barrel

    Hoppy, if you want to get some insight on how to create a strong economy with good paying jobs, look somewhere else than a policy wonk who is funded by the AFL-CIO.

  • CaptainQ

    Question: "Is a lawsuit a losing battle when it comes to proposed EPA regulations?"

    Answer: "Yes!"

    Just remember who controls the courts.

    Nuf sed.

    • Hillboy

      I having a little trouble remembering. Who does control the courts?

      • The bookman

        Curious as well. We'll get a good idea most likely later this month as SCOTUS rules on stationary source standards. The early line is 5-4 to 6-3 on the side of the EPA.

        • Hillboy

          A vote count is one thing. Control of the court is another. I think it would be hard for an objective person to make the case that Obama controls the Supreme Court. I'm not sure if that is what Captain meant but it seems to be implied.

          • The bookman

            I think the slim conservative majority makes this court unpredictable, and have going them quite independent as a collective body. I had hoped Captain would have clarified.

  • Aaron

    These proposals are not about West Virginia coal mining. As is indicated by the recent export trend, coal can still be mined in WV even if we shut down our power plants. It will simply be exported.

    The issue is our power plants. The EIA projects that coal will remain the primary source of electrical generation for the next two decades and then remain a secondary source for years to come. These regulations may reduce the amount of Coeburn but they certainly do not eliminate co-has an energy source.

    What the proposed does is force states with large amount of coal-fired power plants such as West Virginia to purchase carbon credits from states with excess carbon emissions.

    20 years from now the top two sources for energy will still be fossil fuels. We will just be paying a lot more for the electricity they produce.

    • rt

      hard to mine coal without electricity

    • FungoJoe

      That is the next battle Aaron. Once this EPA regulation is in place, the Obama plan is to take Executive Action and make the exporting of coal in the US, from the US illegal. That is his only control mechanism he has over the foreign governments to make them comply with his global warming faux science.

      • The bookman

        Will he stop Australia and Indonesia too? And what about China? I agree they detest the industry, but if they can drive the price down, industry will move away on their own.

    • The bookman

      It will impact our exports as well as this proposal will drive down the price of coal, eroding the slim margin in Eastern coal.

      • Aaron

        Much of that will depend on other circumstances. My point is the two are not synonymous.

        • The bookman

          All I can say is that many of our mines are currently idled due to the depressed price of coal versus the cost of extraction. This proposal projects a depression of 18% in the per ton price of coal. Western coal is winning that war currently and will continue to win the export game if prices erode as predicted. I agree they are separate issues, but there is a break point on eastern extraction for exported coal, and I think we are very close to it.

          • The bookman

            It's price is reflective of it's significantly lower BTU's . It has greater margins due to its ease of extraction. We'll have the Met coal when that market returns, but further price drops on steam coal could pressure our ability to export it.

          • Aaron

            Western Coal will always win the price war. It's so much easier to mine didn't know.

  • Jim N Charleston

    China & India just love all the EPA regulations on Coal and the the US Green Movement. They're kicking the USA's taill in everything and will own our resouces soon since we're in so much debt to them.

    Rome is burning while Nero plays the fiddle.

    I'm Jim N So Charleston
    All I got

  • The bookman

    Couldn't, and shouldn't, we as a state and nation be doing both, Mr. Boettner? Shouldn't we be pursuing an all of the above strategy to meet our energy needs now and in the future? And shouldn't we question the authority of an unelected politically driven bureaucracy as the EPA in attempting to exercise such control over our economic well being, especially considering they have acted on direct opposition to the will of Congress by executive order in the face of failed legislation? This is still the Republic of the United States of America, not the Kingdom of the United States of America.

    • Aaron

      If this is the same individual who used to post on the Charleston Gazette forums under the moniker One Citizen as I 'suspect' it is then he has no problem with a non elected entity writing regulations. This one particular citizen champions a form of government in which decisions for the general population are best made at the federal government level as they know best.

  • Gary Karstens

    We need a clean, safe environment MetroNews.

    Coal must be regulated!

    Guns must be regulated!

    The time has come. YEESH!

    • Bill MC

      I think you should move to a more controlled country. They are out there and would be happy to control your total thoughts and freedoms. You sounds like freedom or choice is not what you want in life.

    • Huh

      Lets not stop there... Let's regulate the foods we eat, let's regulate what we wear to work, let's regulate how many children we should have, let's regulate how much money we should have in our bank account. That freedom crap is overrated.

      Living the liberal dream.