WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAZ) -- Governor Earl Ray Tomblin told WSAZ.com that his meeting with new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy was "overall very friendly."
"(it was a) very positive meeting. We had some very frank conversations and she was interested in each of the concerns we had and assured us that she would look into them and we would keep the dialogue going," Governor Tomblin said.
Tomblin, and a Democratic delegation from West Virginia that included Coal Association Vice President Chris Hamilton and U.S. Representative Nick Rahall, state Democratic Party Chair Larry Puccio and Member of the House of Delegates Mesha Poore, who is running to represent the 2nd District in Congress, spent about an hour with McCarthy in Washington D.C..
The Governor is deeply concerned about the EPA's plans for policies on the use of coal, emissions, and how it will affect families across West Virginia.
The meeting was a welcome change of events for West Virginia Lawmakers who struggled in the past to find common ground with former EPA Director Lisa Jackson.
"The fact that we were able to meet and have a dialogue, I think is a starting place. Am I totally optimistic? No. I mean after the experience we've had over the last four years I would prefer to wait and see how it goes and at least the door is open to have the conversation that is not something we had before."
The Tomblin and previously the Manchin administration sparred with the EPA over coal mining permits that coal advocates say held up the creation of jobs and contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in coal severance money.
"We absolutely want a clean environment but we need to do it in a realistic way and not destroy jobs along the way."
Governor Tomblin says he has invited McCarthy to come to West Virginia to see what happens before any sort of policy is put into place.
He described her as "very sympathetic," to what any policy could mean to the families across the Mountain State.
"You've got to remember when you are making all these regulations they are affecting peoples lives, peoples jobs, peoples livelihoods," he explained.
Earlier this week McCarthy spoke at a meeting in Boston. She was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please?"
"We need to embrace cutting-edge technology as a way to spark business innovation."
A spokesperson for the EPA said in an email today:
"This was a good and productive meeting. It is always helpful to hear views of the West Virginia delegation as we work together to find the best solutions to protect public health and reduce carbon pollution while promoting job growth."