CHARLESTON – West Virginia Republican leaders and Sen. Joe Manchin are applauding President Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, saying it will benefit the state.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says the proposed replacement of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan “is far preferable.” Morrisey said his office will review the rule for full compliance with the law.
“The Obama-era Power Plan sought to devastate West Virginia coal miners, but our office led the nationwide fight and stopped it at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Morrisey said in a statement. “That was a crucial victory for West Virginia, but our fight knows no end. We remain a steadfast leader on the national stage and will review the ACE rule thoroughly to ensure that it respects coal miners and the livelihoods of those who depend upon their success.
“President Trump has been a friend of our state, and of coal, and the Affordable Clean Energy rule allows our state the autonomy to regulate energy and air quality without much of the unlawful federal overreach of the so-called Clean Power Plan.”
Proponents say the new ACE rule, introduced June 19, respects the role of states in regulating energy and air quality, giving states the authority to consider factors specific to the energy needs and facilities in their borders, including costs, practical achievability and the useful life of any particular power plant.
Morrisey contends the framework of any new Environmental Protection Agency energy plan replacement must set achievable targets for individual plants – a stark contrast to the Obama EPA’s effort to shut down coal-fired power plants.
Morrisey challenged the Obama plan the day it was published, blocked its enforcement with a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court and has continued to lead a broad coalition to ensure its repeal. He has long argued the Obama EPA overstepped its authority by transforming the nation’s energy industry, double regulating fossil-fired power plants and forcing states to shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.
Gov. Jim Justice also praised the new proposed EPA policy, saying Obama’s plan “crippled West Virginia’s economy and the lives of its people.”
“I’ve said time and again that all of our hard-working families in West Virginia have never had a better friend in the White House than they do with President Trump,” Justice said in a June 19 statement. “And today, it’s truer than ever. Today’s news that we’re finally ending Obama’s ridiculous war on coal is an absolute relief for our economy and for our people.
“The Affordable Clean Energy Rule will give power where it belongs: back to the states. Places like California may be able to survive entirely on solar and wind, and that’s great. But here in West Virginia, we live and die by the coal we mine and the oil and natural gas we produce. The Obama restrictions were so ridiculous and out of touch with the reality of life here in West Virginia, that thousands of people lost the lifestyle and standard of living they were accustomed to. This economic hopelessness in West Virginia led to a drug epidemic that we are still trying to recover from.”
Justice praised Trump for the proposed policy.
“Everything I’ve done since I walked in the door as governor has been to try to bring our state back to life and bring us out of 50th,” Justice said. “We’ve built incredible momentum in our economy, going from bankruptcy to the second fastest revenue growth rate of any state in the country, all in just a couple of years.
“But this historic move by my good friend, President Trump, unlocks even more of our great state’s incredible potential. People who lost everything will finally be able to go back to work and put more money in their pockets and more food on the table. We still have a lot of people that we need to help. But this is going to help us, in every way, wipe the slate clean from the Obama years and springboard us into the future.”
Manchin, a Democrat, said he likes the flexibility provided by the ACE proposal, such as giving states a list of "candidate technologies" that can be used to establish standards of performance for fossil fuel power plants offering these plants more flexibility to comply.
“I never supported the CPP because it required coal plants to install emission controls that were not “commercially proven” at the time," Manchin said. "It is unreasonable to ask power plants to utilize technologies that do not yet exist, and penalize them if they don’t.
"For this reason and others, the regulation became a subject of intense litigation causing further uncertainty for our power sector. While we are still reviewing the final rule and its implications, the rule does offer fossil plants greater compliance flexibility, which I support."
Manchin is a leader of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In April, he helped introduce the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology (EFFECT) Act that would authorize millions of dollars for new carbon capture research programs at the Energy Department.
"We cannot be complacent in seeking climate solutions using technology that should be proven through aggressive R&D," Manchin said. "That’s why I have introduced the EFFECT Act to pursue the carbon capture technologies that will help achieve meaningful emissions reductions here and abroad without elimination of any fuel. That’s just not how the world turns.
"As the United States, we must lead the world in technological innovation so that we – as a global community – can combat climate change. Without a concerted effort from all sectors of the economy and from all nations, our achievements will not get the job done.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito is a leader on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“The EPA’s final Affordable Clean Energy rule is another sign that the Trump administration is committed to commonsense regulation and ending the War on Coal, and that striking a balance between the economy and the environment is absolutely possible,” Capito said. “The Obama administration’s so-called Clean Power Plan was an unrealistic and strangling regulation that was devastating to West Virginia’s energy economy.
“Under this new rule, states and energy producers will be able to reduce their emissions at an achievable pace without cutting back on jobs or economic growth. Combined with rolling back unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and compliance costs, this will keep American energy affordable and competitive on the world stage.
“West Virginians don’t have to choose between a clean environment and a thriving economy. We demand both; and with this plan, we can achieve both.”
Businessman Woody Thrasher, who will challenge Justice in the Republican gubernatorial primary next year, also hailed the proposed rule, calling it “a balanced correction to the suffocation West Virginia’s coal industry endured at the hands of the Obama administration.”
“This week’s final Affordable Clean Energy rule shows us that President Donald Trump is committed to reducing red tape and giving states the power to decide what is best for them,” Thrasher said. “This commonsense approach is another step forward in ending Obama’s war on coal that crushed West Virginia’s economy for far too long.
“We know how to balance our environment and our economy, and I’m grateful President Trump and is allowing us to return to the world stage as a competitive energy source for many years to come.”