CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Legislature is moving fast to repeal a controversial alternative fuels law adopted six years ago.

The House Energy committee voted unanimously Thursday to roll back the Alternative Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, a law opponents derisively call a state version of cap-and-trade, while the Senate Energy committee prepared to follow suit with a similar bill.  

The law is designed to lower emissions from West Virginia power plants by requiring them to use increasing amounts of alternative fuels: 10 percent by next year, 15 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025.

The new Republican majority announced earlier that repealing “cap-and-trade” would be their first order of business, but they found support when all Democrats on the two committees joined in the move.

The law was pushed through in 2009 at the behest of then-Gov. Joe Manchin, who still supports it. Manchin said in a recent interview with MetroNews that his goal was to encourage the development of more efficient and less-polluting alternatives, including carbon-based sources such as coal gasification and liquefaction. Now a member of the U.S. Senate, Manchin was not happy with Thursday’s votes.

At the time, even the coal industry supported the measure, though now it has backed away. West Virginia Coal Association president Bill Raney spoke at both committee meetings Thursday in favor of repealing the law.

It’s a different day today than it was in 2009,” Raney said. “We just don’t think the No. 2 coal-producing state with the best coal miners in the world need to be in the position of suggesting that we make electricity with something other than coal.”

Several committee members reporting hearing concerns from homeowners who have installed solar panels and now fear the repeal will prevent them from selling excess energy to utilities. An official with First Energy said, however, that if the law is revoked, the state Public Service Commission would still require power companies to buy the home-grown alternative electricity.

The bills revoking the alternative fuels law now head to the Judiciary Committees in both houses.

Manchin released the following statement Thursday night:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Republicans in West Virginia legislature have decided to play partisan politics with our state’s energy and utility rates by attempting to repeal the bipartisan Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio law. When I was governor, we brought together industry, coal miners, and environmental leaders and passed this commonsense law that encourages utilities to use all of West Virginia’s energy resources, from building more efficient coal power plants and upgrading old plants, to investing in renewable energy.

“Our law showed the country that coal could continue to lead our nation toward energy independence, while also reducing emissions.  Coal will be a part of our nation’s energy portfolio for the next several decades, and West Virginia must lead the way in showing other states how to produce and burn coal more efficiently and cleanly. This law struck a balance between our economy and our environment, and has reduced utility rates for middle class West Virginians, something all of our elected officials should be focused on. If the Republicans now believe that this law harmed the coal industry and increased rates, I would expect that their legislation will have a mandatory reduction of utility rates of more than ten percent for all West Virginians.

“Since its passage, the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio law has aimed to protect our environmental interests while focusing on job growth, bringing in new businesses, and upholding West Virginia’s technological advantage by incentivizing the use of state-of-the-art energy systems.  The utilities have successfully met the 2015 goals and do not anticipate any issues with meeting the 2020 and 2025 goals. West Virginia was the only state that showed, if we take advantage of clean energy technologies, we can reduce emissions while still utilizing coal. It is my belief that West Virginia’s energy policies can be used as a template for future national energy policies to strike that balance between environmental concerns and America’s energy needs.

“I had always hoped and believed that the corrosive political atmosphere that has been so destructive in Washington would not make its way to our great state – this attempt by Republicans proves that the worst of Washington political gamesmanship has made its way to West Virginia.”

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  • Yogi Wahoo

    No circuses scheduled for Charleston ..the town has exceeded it's limit for clowns. Yogi to walk in 2020 for Governor on the platform we give all welfare folk 3 k and move them out of state never to return.

  • I always said

    I support global warming! It lowers my heat bill! And please Sen. Manchin, I support "playing with utility rates" if it makes energy more affordable!

  • Truth

    Sorry God for the wisdom of the Left that has worshiped your creation over you as is evident by their love for Planned Parenthood, NARAL... Not to mention that during their last convention they didn't want to recognize you.

  • bandit

    Coal is dirty's that lipstick on a pig thing

  • WV Worker

    Where and when did they reduced utility rates for middle class West Virginia. My electric goes up every time AEP president needs a new car for the kid or the kid goes to the dentist. Or someone on the PSC board needs something new.

  • AJ

    Looks like Joe wont be running for governor as look as the Republicans are in charge.

  • Tom m.

    What can red do for you?.

  • Joe's Mo Jo

    After just the second day of the legislature it appears that Manchin has finally lost his Mo Jo.
    Crying foul so doesn't fit you and your ilk Joe. Your convenient case of amnesia does not work, remember when your party rammed Obama Care through Congress without a single bi-partisan vote? But somehow that's perfectly acceptable because it fits your narrative?
    Even though he's moved on to DC he stills believes that he is the Puppet Master of WV politics. Get over yourself Joe, most have grown weary of your "I know what's best for every West Virginian attitude." Your party lost--not only lost but suffered an old-fashion beat-down, nationally and statewide. No matter your future political plans, many of us will not forget your endorsement of Obama and your endorsement of a candidate that could not even carry one county out of 55--Ms. Tennant. You also campaigned for Landrieu and she received her comeuppance too.
    Try as you may Joe, face it, you are becoming less relevant by the day. And it will be a bright day for WV when you and Gail are sent back to Marion County and again selling linoleum!

  • The bookman

    Passing the bill in 2009 was symbolic, and had zero effect on the industry. Striking it down will also be symbolic, and will not result in anything positive for the coal or power industry. In both instances, the actions of the respective Legislatures provide for interesting sound bytes for targeted audiences.

    • norm

      bookmanit means some sob wont get his pockets lined in6 years get a life

    • liberty4all

      Couldn't agree more.

  • David

    Sorry God, that there are backward, greedy idiots destroying your planet. Please give them enough brains to know the truth and understand the overwhelming scientific evidence on polluting emissions that are destroying your creation. And thank you for sending us the wisdom of President Obama and the EPA.

  • Stupid Hillbillies

    This is the way its done. You slap the m0r0n in the face, unlike the liberal leftist demos kissing his rear end!

    The RIGHT road to success!

    • Denial

      Get it done! I'm all for allowing the coal industry to completely destroy WV's air, water, landscape, soil, and people. Rip the state to shreds! None of us will be around when it's in ruins anyway. Who really cares about the future? Not me! I need mine right now!

  • Jeff

    If you hear someone referring to AREPS as cap and trade, it's a sure fire way to know they have no idea what they're talking about.

  • wvguy_39

    About time some one got some back bone and started thinking about getting rid of job killing legislation rather than pander to the environmentalist.

    • Jeff

      there is nothing "job killing" about this legislation. Seem you read as week as your elected repubs

      • Educate

        Weak... Not "week".

        • Jeff

          Well* autocorrect. Thanks for your reply.

      • Ordinary WV Joe

        ...and it seems that Jeff reads as "week" as....! Did Jeff fail to note that the vote was "unanimous", meaning ALL Committee members voted for it? But poor Jeff can't help it. He's most likely the product of Dem and Union controlled public education Maybe this is the first indication that state government can work.. Without Mo Jo to coerce and threaten Democrat elected officials and a weak Governor with no political testicular fortitude, maybe those Democrat elected officials will think for themselves and vote for public policy measures that truly benefit West Virginia. Just saying. .

        • Jeff

          What? Instead of olaying cheerleader you should ask yourself why this legislation was a farce in the first place.

          • Educate

            Playing... Not "olaying"

        • Mitch

          Or sell their eternal souls to the highest bidder, regardless of the catastrophic consequences.

  • M.E.

    One day in the legislature, and we're back to polluting the air and letting energy companies do whatever they want to make a profit. The health and well-being of WV residents be screwed. Republicans never change. It's all totally about the big almighty corporate dollar. This state deserves to be so polluted that not a single tourist will visit.

    • JL

      Thank God we have someone to stand up to the job killing Obama legislature. Way to go keep it rolling.

    • WV Common Tater

      I am not a coal miner and maybe I can't speak for them, but I think they would rather work than draw welfare. How do you make your living? Let us all know where your attitude comes from?

      • M.E.

        I value the future of the entire planet more than a few dying coal jobs. Duh.

        • WV Common Tater

          Again, you are like so many others that when asked a direct question, answers with a platitude. How do you make your living, is it Welfare or on Disability, it has to be one of the two. I guess it could be your parents! Duh....... Waiting.....

        • So...?

          So M.E. How do you make your living?

      • Dave

        Yea, let the planet be screwed, mostly your grandkids and great grandkids. Evidently you're too dense and stupid to believe or understand the overwhelming scientific evidence, and the truth of climate change. Idiots like you are destroying our planet. Get your despicable, self-centered head out of the sand.

        • WV Common Tater

          Spoken like a true liberal social scientist who avoid the hard courses that required intelligence and thinking.

        • Dr sarcasm

          Omg! You too are destroying the planet with carbon dioxide when you breathe! So stop breathing!

        • wirerowe

          Davi finish the most obtuse and vague sentence in the history of America. The science of global warming and climate change is settled. What exactly is settled and please give me the names of three specific client scientist that you have read more than once that lead you to your position onglobal warming.

        • Authority

          As a scientist, I will admit the climate is changing. However, there's not a shred of concrete evidence to suggest pollution is the culprit. But it is a great way to turn a profit for investors in green energy products.

          Was it coal-fired power plants that brought us out of the ice age?

          • Dave

   Read it directly from NASA if you are educated enough to do so. Then change your name to something other than Authority. You are embarrassing yourself. It's fools like you and wirerowe that set WV back 100 years and give us the unfortunate reputation that we have.

  • Uncle Cecil

    Fine bipartisan work by the Legislature. Keep the change train rolling!