CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s Day 2 of public hearings on the Clean Power Plan by the Environmental Protection Agency at West Virginia’s state Capitol.
The first day was jam-packed with political figures, coal industry representatives, environmental groups and citizens, all weighing in on the possible repeal of the plan that was meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Over the course of two days, about 200 people were expected to provide comments in three different hearing rooms.
Today seems to be shaping up to be more low-key. No press conferences are scheduled, and the focus appears to be more on average citizens.
We’ll keep you updated throughout the day:
4 p.m. The plea for additional speakers appears to have gone unheard. The room has cleared out except for EPA staff and a few reporters.
At least no one here can say they didn’t have a chance to speak.
2:30 p.m. Sarah Mason of Alexandria, Virginia, continues the public comments. She wants to oppose the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
“Despite what the Trump administration wants you to believe the Obama administration did not declare war on coal. Technology and market forces did,” she says.
2:16 p.m. We’re having a break, with no new speakers apparently on deck. If you have been torn in your heart of hearts for two days straight about speaking to the EPA, this is your shot. Get here now!
2:05 p.m. Rev. Jeffrey Allen, executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, talks about the land, the air and the water as part of the general welfare.
“This heritage is something we will pass from one generation to the next,” he says.
Allen says the Clean Power Plan reflects the idea of the common good.
“The Council affirms our calling to be good stewards,” Allen says.
1:46 p.m. David Lillard, special projects manager for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, speaks in support of the Clean Power Plan.
“As an American, I’m appalled that this is the only public hearing for a plan that drew some 8 million comments when it was first considered. As a West Virginian, I’m insulted that this is the location,” says Lillard, describing the backdrop of coal miners during yesterday’s hearings.
1:41 p.m. Bill Bissett, president of the Huntington Regional Chamber and a former president of the Kentucky Coal Association, refers to “economic destruction” that could have been produced by the Clean Power Plan.
He says many of his chamber members have a direct or indirect connection to the use of coal or natural gas.
Bissett says he had concerns that the EPA was trying to solve a global problem by acting nationally. He also says West Virginia needs to protect or expand whatever economic advantages it has.
“I understand the people in California and New York might not like fossil fuels. But we in West Virginia understand their importance,” Bissett says.
1:22 p.m. Aileen Curfman of Shepherdstown says “Do not repeal the Clean Power Plan.”
“I was excited about the improved quality of life the Clean Power Plan was supposed to bring to America, and to West Virginia. Now, the EPA is planning to repeal the Clean Power Plan.”
She takes exception to an economic analysis in the EPA’s filings, saying the agency should consider health and environmental effects instead.
“Let’s mine the sun, the wind, and earth’s heat,” she says. “Sometimes company needs incentives to overcome their inertia. The Clean Power Plan provides some of those incentives.”
1:17 p.m. Jacqueline Patterson of the NAACP environmental and justice climate program is discussing health concerns relating to greenhouse gases. In particular, she’s focusing on the health effects on minorities, many of whom live in communities near power plants or manufacturers.
1 p.m. We’re getting ready to go back in for another afternoon of public comment.
I, and some of the rest of the media, got distracted by a breaking news event at midday — that former coal operator Don Blankenship is planning to run for U.S. Senate. He’ll be taking aim at incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, with whom he has a particularly antagonistic relationship.
Blankenship is also no fan of federal regulators.
10:34 a.m. Roxanne Groff of Buckeye Environmental Network is advocating for increased use of renewable energies such as wind and solar.
“In my opinion the Clean Power Plan doesn’t go far enough,” she says, saying it encourages movement from one fossil fuel, coal, to another, natural gas.
“We have to stop fighting each other and start realizing we must be protectors.”
She adds, “We need an enforcement agency to stand up for saving our earth.”
10:28 a.m. Loraine McCosker of Athens, Ohio, is speaking against repeal, taking EPA administrators to task for planning only one public hearing. She’a an instructor of environmental studies at Ohio University.
“I’d also like to say it’s unacceptable that this is the only public hearing about the repeal of the Clean Power Plan,” she says.
“The Clean Power Plan is not an economic policy plan, but instead an environmental policy plan. If it is repealed, the effect would be felt not just in Appalachia or in America, but globally.”
10:08: Rob Klee, the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says EPA has done a disservice by having only one public hearing, in West Virginia. He’s speaking against repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
“Connecticut is already experiencing the impacts of climate change,” Klee says.
He says there are real costs to climate change in terms of rising sea levels, severe weather events and the health effects of air pollution.
“That’s why we take this issue deadly seriously in Connecticut,” he says.
He says the goals of the Clean Power Plan are achievable, and Connecticut has already made great strides in compliance.
10:04 a.m. Kemita Gray, president of the Brandywine TB Coalition in Maryland, talks about the effects of natural gas activities and power plants on residents of her community, particularly minorities.
“We would like for you to explain how repealing the CPP is a benefit to our public health,” she says.
9:57 a.m. We’re taking a 10-minute break in the Senate Judiciary room.
9:40 a.m. Michael Myers, senior counsel from New York State Attorney General’s office is now speaking.
Like West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey, was active with attorneys general who were fighting the Clean Power Plan, New York’s Attorney General A.G. Schneiderman was among those from states in support of the plan. Schneiderman has said his office will sue to prevent repeal.
Myers is discussing effects of climate change on New York, such as rising sea levels and extreme storms.
“The Clean Power Plan is a necessary and workable response to that challenge. EPA should abandon its proposed repeal.”
9:36 a.m. Vicky Sullivan, who is speaking on behalf of The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a group supporting coal-fired power plants, says she supports the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. She says the retirement of coal-fired power plants threatens the national power grid.
She says the Clean Power Plan would affect the economy and livelihoods without making a substantial effect on global warming.
9:28 a.m. Looking around the room, it remains fairly crowded here.
We’ve consolidated from three rooms to two, and there are no political figures to be seen. There are also not the uniformed coal miners who were here yesterday. But much of the national media remains (along with West Virginia media), and there’s a steady group of citizens ready to speak.
9:21 a.m. Charleston lawyer Nick Preservati touts American energy independence as a national security issue.
“It’s important not to pass regulations that fundamentally alter the strongest economy in the world when we do not fully understand the problem we’re trying to resolve,” Preservati says.
He agrees there is climate change, but says the science over man’s contributions is unsettled.
“Regulations need to be supported by science, not public opinion. Science should drive the agenda; the agenda should not drive the science.”
9:17 a.m. Kim Cramer, a nurse from Parkersburg, discusses the health effects of greenhouse gases. She also references the recent warehouse fire in Parkersburg that included unidentified plastic materials.
“This is another example of how communities close to manufacturing are affected by lack of regulation,” she says.
She tells the EPA administrators, “If you must err, err on the side of clean air.”
She is among those objecting to EPA only having one public hearing about the Clean Power Plan’s repeal.
“This should be one of many public hearings throughout the country.”
9:06 a.m. First speaker is Rodney Wilson, who is using an oxygen tank. He lives is a West Virginia resident.
He says he is speaking for his grandchildren.
“I find it incredulous that we’re having these hearings today because I thought the science was long settled,” Wilson says.
“If we stand by and continue to stick our heads in the sand with regards to climate change, I fear it will be too late. Folks, there is no planet B when it comes to climate change.”
9 a.m. Cosmo Servidio, EPA’s Region 3 administrator, is starting today’s hearing in the Senate Judiciary Room.
Streaming options are here if you want to follow along:
On Tuesday, Servidio explained a bit about why EPA is having these hearings, saying the original Clean Power Plan was an example of federal overreach. EPA received some criticism Tuesday about scheduling only these two days of hearings in West Virginia and not elsewhere.
Preparation for Clean Power Plan press conference https://t.co/TUs2Od9twA
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) November 28, 2017
8:50 a.m. If you’d like to brush up on various takes from yesterday, both within West Virginia and nationally, here’s a sampler.
Our Day 1 live blog was here: Clean Power Plan gets a full debate in West Virginia
Hoppy Kercheval’s commentary was The EPA comes to West Virginia to listen… finally
The Charleston Gazette-Mail focused on the coal industry wanting a rebound versus citizens groups wanting to protect the Clean Power Plan: EPA greenhouse gas rule hearing in WV draws supporters, opponents
The Washington Post focused on an early dichotomy between testimonies by coal operator Bob Murray and a former miner with black lung: EPA hears worries about climate in heart of coal country
New Republic asked whether Murray made some of his coal miners attend Tuesday’s hearing while dressed in mining gear: Did a coal baron make his miners attend today’s EPA hearing?
Bloomberg Environment focused on political figures such as West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wanting a permanent end to the Clean Power Plan, while others in the power industry would like predictable regulations: Replacing Power Rule Divides Industry United on Repeal
VICE News focused on some comments made by West Virginia Coal Association President Chris Hamilton during a rally outside the Capitol: A coal industry executive thinks God intervened to elect Trump
8:25 a.m. People are signing in for the second day of public hearings on the repeal of the federal Clean Power Plan. Here’s a look ahead and a summary of what was said during the first day.
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) November 29, 2017