Coal miners and their supporters held a rally and barbeque outside the West Virginia Capitol Tuesday, but they were also there in force, on the inside. The reason? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding two-days of hearings over the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that critics said decimated the coal industry.
“But unless this Clean Power Plan is repealed, this will force many of these coal fired power plants to close,” said Bob Murray, CEO, Murray Energy.
Even though the Clean Power Plan never went into full effect, the idea was to reduce carbon emissions by using less coal and creating more energy through solar and wind. Power plan supporters were allowed to testify at the hearing, and they said West Virginia is missing out on a big opportunity.
“There are a hundred businesses that have said that by 2020, they are going to go completely renewable in their energy. And they won’t look at West Virginia to relocate, because we can’t offer them that,” said Jim Probst, of Citizens Climate Lobby.
But Clean Power Plan opponents said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Obama Administration over-stepped its authority.
“They tried to double-regulate coal fired power plants and really engaged in this cross-subsidization to force coal to to bear the brunt of the cost shift over to solar and renewables. And that was clearly unlawful,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, (R) West Virginia.
President Donald Trump made repealing the plan, a high priority.
The EPA will take all of the testimony under advisement, so it could be several months before a final decision is made on the future of the Clean Power Plan.