Thursday, February 12, 2015

EPA official grilled about why climate rules public listening sessions were not held in coal country

A top Environmental Protection Agency official on Wednesday dodged a question from Sen. Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.) about why the agency failed to hold in coal country any of its 11 scheduled public listening sessions about proposed climate rules. The rules are designed to cut CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030 from existing power plants based on emission levels from 2005. In response to the proposed rules Congressional Republicans have accused President Obama and EPA of declaring a "war on coal."

Capito, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, asked Janet McCabe, head of air and radiation at EPA, why none of the meetings were held in West Virginia or other coal regions. McCabe never directly answered the question but instead told Capito, "We did have a lot of meetings around the country. When we were scheduling national level meetings, we wanted to have those in locations where people were comfortable coming. We used a lot of EPA offices."

Capito said in a statement: “I’m appalled by the EPA’s refusal to hold a public hearing in West Virginia—the second largest coal producing state in America—because it wasn't deemed 'comfortable' enough. Regardless of whether or not EPA officials feel ‘comfortable’ facing the thousands of West Virginia coal miners whose livelihoods are threatened by these proposed rules, West Virginians deserve the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also responded to McCabe's testimony, saying in a statement: "On several occasions over the past two years, I urged the EPA to come to Kentucky to speak directly to those most impacted by its anti-coal regulations and to get a first-hand view of the effects of the War on Coal. The EPA repeatedly denied our requests.” (YouTube video)

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