January 27, 2016

Send Coal Ash Bill To the White House | The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

Even Environmental Protection Agency officials backed away from a plan to establish job-killing new regulations on coal ash after U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., pointed out they were not needed. States could do a better job of managing coal ash rules, he noted.

But that was years ago, and McKinley's proposal to give states that authority still has not become law. Though the measure has been approved by the House of Representatives, a threat by President Barack Obama to veto it has stalled action in the Senate.

That may change, courtesy of Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and John Hoeven, R-N.D. They have introduced a bill similar to McKinley's, but with a few changes designed to make it acceptable to the White House. McKinley backs the measure.

EPA officials initially wanted to declare coal ash a hazardous material and regulate it accordingly. But after McKinley explained coal ash is used widely in products ranging from concrete to drywall, the agency backed away from that. It proposed a less-severe set of regulations.

Even that would have been unwise, McKinley - and now Manchin and Hoeven - recognize. Allowing states to handle coal ash rules would be far wiser.

The Manchin-Hoeven bill represents something of a test in the Senate, in that it would be a pro-coal measure of the type many Democrats have voted against in the past. This time they should do what is right for their constituents and send the bill to Obama with a majority strong enough to override any veto by the president.