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The West Virginia Coal Forum wholeheartedly supports a bold request to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to join with other states in refusing to file state plans with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under its controversial “Clean Power Plan” rules. The Coal Forum is an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry.

West Virginia’s three U.S. House members sent a letter to Tomblin June 3 asking him 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.

“The constant regulatory attack on the coal industry calls for bold action to be requested of and considered by our executive and other office holders,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum. “The Obama Administration is using every resource available to reduce coal mining and take jobs away from coal miners. Traditional responses from state and local governments are not enough to combat the President. It’s time for West Virginia to take a stand and do what our congressional delegation requests.”

Under EPA’s “Clean Power Plan,” states must submit to EPA their State Implementation Plan (SIP) to meet much stricter air quality standards by June 30, 2016. These new standards, imposed via agency rule under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, largely preclude coal-fired electricity production in the United States.

Once submitted, SIPs become federally enforceable, meaning whatever West Virginia submits to EPA as its plan to meet the new Clean Power Plan mandates – regardless of the economic impact or feasibility of those changes – is enforceable, according to EPA.

The West Virginia Legislature already has tried to insert more state control over the SIP-development process with passage of legislation in 2014 and 2015. State law now will require West Virginia to make its SIP details flexible with achievable standards that first must be approved by the Legislature before the SIP can be submitted to EPA.

West Virginia’s Congressional delegation is urging state leaders to exert even more control over how they enforce the Clean Air Act by outright rejecting EPA’s SIP mandate.

“Complying with EPA’s climate rules will result in the loss of additional coal jobs, the shuttering of additional coal-fired power plants and will bring further economic devastation to communities across our great state,” Hamilton said. “It’s time to say no to President Obama and his EPA once and for all.”