West Virginia Officials Rip Obama Climate Proposal

By: Associated Press; Andrew Colegrove Email
By: Associated Press; Andrew Colegrove Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP, WSAZ) -- With West Virginia the nation's second-leading coal producer, several of its elected officials see nothing positive from President Barack Obama's plan to target carbon dioxide from power plants.

Fellow Democrat and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Tuesday's proposal will impose unreasonable restrictions that will yield disastrous consequences.

Another Democrat, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., called it misguided, misinformed and untenable.

Rahall and GOP Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., warn it will kill mining jobs while driving up utility bills.

Obama argued Tuesday that similar predictions about previous environmental protections failed to come true.

The president is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, at least partly because of his coal policies.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration is suing federal environmental regulators in one legal challenge and supporting mining interests in another.

Like many in our region, Louisa, Ky., resident Gregg Stepp comes from a family with a long history of working in coal.

"Both my grandfathers worked in the coal mines," Stepp said.

Also, like many here at home, he's not a fan of Obama's plan to reduce use of fossil fuels to fight climate change.

Obama's order for the EPA to clamp down on power plant emissions is the latest in what many in our region view as a strong anti-coal agenda.

Back in 2008 a YouTube video caught Joe Biden on an anti-coal rant in which he said, "No coal coal plants here in America."

Stepp has worked at a mine in East Lynn more than 30 years. His son has worked there for 3.

With the winds of change coming to America's energy policies, Stepp is now trying to convince his son to leave the family business and go back to school.

"If there's no work around here he'll have to have some other skills to go out in other places and find a job," Stepp said.

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