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Thumbs down: EPA hearings skip coal country

Nov. 06, 2013 @ 12:43 AM

The Obama administration’s push to diminish coal as an energy source already has affected jobs and the economy in Appalachia.

You would think that as the Environmental Protection Agency plans to take that campaign to the next level, that residents of our region might have a chance to voice their concerns. After all, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky will feel the impact both with jobs and with the cost of electricity, because much of our power is  generated by coal-fired plants.

But the agency seems to be doing everything it can to avoid that.

The EPA is planning a “listening tour” this week to get public feedback on its new greenhouse gas regulations, designed to  reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The meetings are being held in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Lenexa, Kan.
But there are no meetings planned around here. For that matter, the EPA is not visiting any of the states that are most dependent on coal-fired electricity —  West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska and North Dakota.

In fact, several of the meeting sites — New York, Boston, Washington, San Francisco and Seattle — have extremely low coal-fired power usage. If the goal was to stack the deck, it seems the Obama administration has done a good job of it.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is lobbying for some additional sessions in our region, and the EPA should schedule those, if officials want truly representative input on these new regulations.

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