September 21, 2012

Manchin offers a bipartisan EPA bill | The Beckley Register-Herald

A bipartisan effort, led by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is taking aim at curbing the Environmental Protection Agency’s “overreach” in enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

The measure is patterned after one in the House to rein in the EPA in what critics have often labeled a “war on coal.”

Manchin said his bill would restore “the proper balance” between states and the federal government that safeguards the water supplies in mining areas while protecting jobs and encouraging economic growth.

The Manchin-Toomey is a companion to one co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and John Mica, R-Fla., which cleared the House 239-184.

“I’ve fought against the overreach of the EPA for my entire career, and I’ll continue to make sure that states take the lead when it comes to making sure they have a balance between their environment and their economy,” Manchin said.

“The fact is, federal courts agree with us: The EPA has overstepped its bounds.

“They’re now 0-3 in federal court cases involving their proper role in administering the Clean Water Act,” Manchin said.

“I know the fight isn’t over until Congress makes it crystal clear that the EPA needs to operate within its proper boundaries and that’s why we’re introducing this legislation.”

The EPA came under more fire this week after Alpha Natural Resources announced the eventual layoffs of 1,200 coal miners, including 60 in four West Virginia mines, and partly blamed the action on environmental pressures.

Manchin’s announcement drew scorn from his Republican challenger, Morgantown businessman John Raese.

“West Virginians are out of work and our senator is busy playing politics,” Raese said.

“Joe Manchin knows that there is no way this legislation will ever see the light of day as long as his friend, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is the Senate majority leader.”

What’s more, Raese cited Federal Election Commission records showing that Manchin collected $20,000 in four donations of $5,000 from Reid, who once complained that “coal makes us sick.”

In a House floor speech, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., criticized the Obama administration, pointing to the Alpha Natural Resources plans to idle 1,200 miners in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia, saying she is “extremely concerned” about the EPA’s role in the mining downturn.

“When you think about it, that’s 1,200 families, 1,200 men and women that came home tonight and last night and said, ‘We’re going to have to do something,’” Capito said.

Capito said the layoffs were “part and parcel” of the Obama administration’s regulatory policies, “the philosophy of this administration that coal is not good for the country and a lack of education, really, on the acknowledgment of the baseload energy that coal brings to this nation.”

The 2nd District congresswoman warned that Americans can expect a jump in their electric bills as the president’s EPA continues to thwart coal production.

Capito said all phases of energy have a role to play — coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

“There is no question, however, that electricity from coal and natural gas is cheaper and more reliable than electricity generated from renewable sources,” she said.

Capito pointed to a recent study showing a family of four would pay $189 monthly for electricity derived from coal, but $504 if it originated with solar power, or $315 more.

“With 47 million Americans on food stamps, and everything from the price of gas to the price of milk increasing, Americans are looking to save money in every way possible,” she added.

By:  Mannix Porterfield