Dear Gov. Tomblin,
We at the West Virginia Coal Forum are writing to request that you protect West Virginia from a state of economic peril that is virtually guaranteed by the mandates contained in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.”
The West Virginia Coal Forum is an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry.
As you are well aware, EPA's policies and programs have contributed to a near collapse of our coal industry over the last several years, and this deterioration has wreaked havoc on practically every aspect of our state. The Clean Power Plan rules will require West Virginia to sacrifice its economic and energy security even more.
West Virginia’s three U.S. House members sent a letter to you on June 3 asking you to join with Texas, Oklahoma and other states that have decided not to file state plans with EPA in spite of the federal agency’s plans to finalize new air pollution rules this summer. We echo that request.
EPA is requiring states to develop and submit implementation plans based on required building blocks. But nothing in EPA’s artificial structure allows a state like West Virginia to make changes to electric power generation without crippling grid reliability and devastating hard-working citizens with skyrocketing utility costs. Essentially, EPA is forcing states to choose their own poison.
We realize the Clean Power Plan rule is not yet final. But if the rule does not change substantially from the way it was proposed, we respectfully request that you stand firm against EPA’s unwise plan and refuse to place West Virginia's economy and bedrock industry in further decline.
The coal industry was thrilled to learn that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has joined the list of governors who have taken a public stand against the EPA’s unlawful and ill-advised regulatory assault on coal-fired power. Allow us to direct you to a portion of Gov. Pence’s June 24 letter to President Obama regarding the Clean Power Plan:
“If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply. Our state will also reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented. I believe the Clean Power Plan as proposed is a vast overreach of federal power that exceeds the EPA's proper legal authority and fails to strike the proper balance between the health of the environment and the health of the economy.”
We hope you will take an even more emphatic tone with the President and his EPA because West Virginia cannot afford to follow the Clean Power Plan, nor can it afford to be a follower as more states exert their constitutional authority against federal overreach. West Virginia needs to be a leader in this fight and tell the EPA it will not comply.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution endorsed a system of federalism to provide a critical check against the federal government’s powers. States’ rights must be respected, as you well know, and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a prime example of when a state has not just the opportunity, but an outright responsibility to its citizens to assert itself against the federal government.
We greatly appreciate the support you have shown to West Virginia’s coal industry throughout your storied career in public service, and we hope we can continue to count on that support today.
Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair
West Virginia Coal Association
Fred Tucker, Co-Chair