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Rockefeller Supports New EPA Rules; Senate Candidates Disagree

Reported: Jun. 2, 2014 4:59 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 2, 2014 6:05 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Heath Harrison) -- In contrast to many elected officials in the state, U.S. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Monday that he supported new rules proposed by the Obama administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which would cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

“The EPA announced today a major step in reducing carbon emissions, and I support its goal of safeguarding the public’s health. Strengthening West Virginians’ health and well-being has always been at the heart of my career in public service,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

Rockefeller addressed the economic fears around the issue, which were raised by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and a group of political and industry leaders at a news conference earlier in the day.

“I understand the fears that these rules will eliminate jobs, hurt our communities, and drive up costs for working families,” Rockefeller said. “I am keenly focused on policy issues that affect West Virginians' health and their livelihoods. However, rather than let fear alone drive our response, we should make this an opportunity to build a stronger future for ourselves. West Virginians have never walked away from a challenge, and I know together we can create a future that protects our health, creates jobs, and maintains coal as a core part of our energy supply.”

Rockefeller said the costs of inaction on the issue are far greater than the costs of action.

Meanwhile, the three candidates running to succeed Rockefeller when he retires in 2015 were critical of the EPA’s move.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who spoke at the press conference at the Capitol, said West Virginia was under attack from the regulations, which she said were part of a “War on Coal.”

“This new rule will have catastrophic consequences for our economy, our coal families and our communities,” Capito said in a statement prior to the news conference. “This morning, I was talking to coal miners and the wives of coal miners in Danville about the deep and personal struggles that have resulted from the War on Coal already, let alone from these new devastating regulations. Our people are hurting, and they are sickened by President Obama and his anti-coal allies taking away their jobs, taking away their money, and telling them how to live their lives."

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced that she will announce her coal and jobs plan at an event in Sophia on Tuesday.

Tennant, the Democratic candidate, opposes the regulations on coal-fired power plants, because she says they will cost jobs for the state. Tennant said she advocates for incentives, rather than regulations, to promote advanced coal technology in the marketplace.
Libertarian candidate John Buckley said he would work to make federal agency rules require the affirmation of Congress before going into effect.

“The unilateral authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to enact carbon emissions rules that will drive up the cost of electric power and trigger massive dislocation within the energy industry is symptomatic of the Big Government, ‘Washington-knows-all’ attitude among the current political elite,” Buckley said in a statement. “It’s time for a change in how Washington does business.”



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