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Coal and the relationship with EPA

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BLUEFIELD (WVVA) -

In September the EPA proposed new guidelines to cut carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Industry leaders say the standard cannot be met with current technology, further straining the relationship between the federal agency and coal.

However, a new person is at the helm of the EPA, leaving many to wonder if the relationship can be mended.

Not only are new proposed standards from the EPA being felt by the coal industry, but for consumers it could increase your electric bill

"There's not a real settled argument consensus agreement that to what degree do we need to control carbon? What is the effect of that?" asks Bill Raney, President of the West Virginia Coal Association.

New EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the new proposed guidelines in September. She took over the post last summer.

"I think they're operating under the commands that came from higher offices." says Raney.

Last August some Democrat is West Virginia lawmakers traveled to Washington to meet with the new EPA administrator in hopes of starting a new chapter, a clean slate if you will regarding EPA-coal industry relations.

"We were encouraged by the fact that she at least took the time to sit down and hear what all of us had to say. That wasn't done by the last administrator," says West Virginia House Speaker Tim Miley, (D)-Harrison.

Speaker Miley was one of the lawmakers who made the trip to meet with Administrator McCarthy.  He disagrees with the new EPA proposals.

"We weren't naive to think that we were going up there have one meeting with them and change their minds completely. What we were hoping for is that it would be the beginning of dialogue," says Miley.

"I think it was a lot of mislead people that came out of that meeting," says Raney.

Industry experts say the war on coal continues with the EPA as the weapon in the war.

"What that translates into is hurting the working people of West Virginia. What we are seeing in our state is declining tax revenues," says Steve Roberts, President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

The reason is unemployed coal miners can't pay income taxes, and according to the West Virginia Coal Association, Coal Severance Taxes generate nearly a half a billion dollars in revenues for the state of West Virginia.

"Any regulations that limits the amount coal that is produced will in turn limit the amount of severance taxes collected by the state from the operation of these coal companies and fewer dollars brought into the coffers of the state of West Virginia," says Speaker Miley.

All eyes in the coal industry are looking to June when the EPA proposes new carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

"What this administration has done over the last five years is create things that are getting very close to being unreversible," says Raney.

"If they propose regulations on those power plants that cannot be met by the burning of coal, then we are in for some real trouble in this state," says Miley.

Raney says there is some encouraging news for the coal industry.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about greenhouse gases and whether standards should apply to power plants.

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