West Virginia Requires Legislative Approval State Power Plant Regulations

Published May 14, 2015

With Democrat Gov. Earl Tomblin’s signature, West Virginia joined Pennsylvania in requiring the state legislature approve of any state-developed carbon-dioxide reduction plan before it is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under its proposed Clean Power Plan rule. 

The law, originally sponsored in the House by State Delegate Joshua Nelson (R-Danville) passed the both the House and the Senate with overwhelming votes of 93 to 3 and 24 to 10 respectively and was signed into law by Tomblin on March 3, 2015.

CO2 Plans

On June 2, 2014, the Obama administration proposed mandating a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 from U.S. power plants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, the proposal, also known as the Clean Power Plan, “provides guidelines for states to develop plans to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution and gives them the flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for their unique situation.”

The fact steep emissions cuts could be enacted without congressional approval is proving controversial on both sides of the aisle. 

Under previous state law, the state Department of Environmental Protection had the ability to create and submit the state’s compliance plan directly to the EPA. This changes with the new law requiring the plan to be submitted to the Legislature for approval first. 

‘Giving People a Voice’

In a statement issued upon the Governor’s signature, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President and CEO Mike Duncan, say, “This law will ensure West Virginia’s elected officials have a say in the regulations that ultimately impact their state’s families and businesses,” Duncan said. “By taking a common sense approach to energy policy, these leaders are helping to secure America’s energy and economic future.” 

Nelson, the primary sponsor of the original House bill, commented on his motivation for authoring it, “I felt the EPA’s clean power plant regulations were unconstitutional overreach and wanted to ensure that before the state Department of Environmental Protection moved to implement state regulations to comply with them, the voices of all regulators, residents and business that will be impacted by these new regulations will be heard, with our legislature ultimately deciding whether the clean power plant regulations were right for West Virginia” Nelson added.

  H. Sterling Burnett ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.