W.Va. reps oppose EPA rules

WHEELING – All three West Virginia members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of a joint resolution seeking to overturn new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations on future coal-fired power plants.

The measure, introduced Wednesday by Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-Beckley, is the lone Democrat among the legislation’s 36 total sponsors, which include Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and Robert Gibbs, R-Lakeview.

McKinley has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama and his administration’s energy policy. He believes the rule effectively will prevent the construction of any new power generation facilities that burn coal – a fuel that accounts for about 40 percent of American electricity.

“This new regulation is a ban on new coal-fired power plants because the EPA’s standards on emissions cannot be met with commercially available technology. … Imposing standards on coal plants that even the EPA admits can’t be achieved is not fair and will unnecessarily hurt our economy,” McKinley said.

The resolution, however, may face a steep uphill road to passage. Even if it clears the full House, it must pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and receive President Barack Obama’s signature to overturn the new regulations.

Per the new rules, announced Sept. 20 by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, new coal-fired power plants would need to find a way to capture between 30 and 50 percent of their carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost.