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West Virginia's Coal Industry Pushes Back on EPA Rules Targeting Carbon Emissions



May 15, 2023Mountain State politicians and its coal industry are already pushing back on new Environmental Protection Agency rules by targeting carbon emissions from existing power plants.

The Biden Administration's proposed new limits on greenhouse gas emission from power plants frame its most ambitious effort yet to curb greenhouse gases and global warming. The nation's 3,400 coal and natural gas power plants produce a quarter of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA's new rules on carbon emissions coupled with incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act to go with greener power sources certainly have the power to reshape how electricity is produced in the United States.

Fossil power plants are currently the nation's second-largest contributor to climate change. A proposed rule would let the EPA force power plants to capture smokestack emissions using carbon-capture technology that isn't in widespread use in the U.S. 


The West Virginia Coal Association called it economic suicide that would make the power grid unreliable and close more power plants in the state. The organization’s president Chris Hamilton spoke with Eyewitness News about the proposal.

“On one hand you're wanting to remove the most reliable fuel source while increasing the load and basic need for electricity,” Hamilton said. “We're headed down a dangerous slope here."

West Virginia’s two U.S. senators are both are balking at what they see as federal government overreach while the state’s attorney general plans a court fight.

West Virginia took the lead in blocking earlier clean air policies when the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA exceeded its powers . The court found the Clean Air Act only allows EPA changes within the plant to cut carbon emissions and not broad economic decisions that belong to Congress.



"Let's call it what it is. They tried to kill coal off in the last round. They failed,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “Now, they're coming back to call it by a different name, but it's still problematic because Congress never gave them this type of authority."

Under the new proposal, most coal plants would have to cut or capture nearly all their carbon emissions by 2038. Plants that cannot meet the standards would be forced to retire.

The EPA said the rule's implementation would have the same impact as taking 137 million cars off the road.