West Virginia lawmakers vow to fight environmental rules

December 28, 2016
Shale Play

CHARLESTOWN (AP) - West Virginia's Republican congressional and state leaders vowed Monday to work with the incoming Trump administration to push back federal environmental regulations they say limit and threaten their state's energy industry and jobs.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said the Obama administration has overstepped its authority in the energy, financial and other sectors and they expect president-elect Donald Trump to undo many of those regulations with support from lawmakers.

She was joined at a news conference by Republican Congressmen Evan Jenkins, David McKinley and Alex Mooney and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is challenging pending smokestack-emission rules in court. They and other state Republican officials met earlier before talking to reporters.

"Basically we have such a great opportunity here," Capito said.

Republicans control both West Virginia legislative houses, both houses of the U.S. Congress and soon the presidency. She said their goals include creating jobs, improving infrastructure, replacing "Obamacare" and "attacking the regulations that have basically weighted down our ability to create jobs and grow."

Capito says replacement of the Obama administration's federal health care law will happen soon.

Trump has criticized the law that extended insurance coverage or Medicaid to almost 20 million people. He has praised its guaranteed insurance coverage of people with pre-existing conditions and letting young adults remain on parents' policies until age 26.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley said pending federal regulations on stream protection particularly threaten coal's future. "Some 45 to 85 percent of coal will no longer be available ... if that were to go into effect," he said.

Trump in his campaign promised vowed to undo looming federal rules concerning coal mining and said President Barack Obama had been "ridiculous" to the industry.

McKinley also predicted significant federal tax reform for the overly complex system in the coming year.

Capito and the congressmen say they didn't know Monday whether Republican House leaders' funding resolution will continue health care and pensions for thousands of retired union miners facing the loss of benefits. She said the West Virginia delegation, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, has been pushing for full benefits.

Capito said the House funding resolution now is expected Tuesday, and it's up to that chamber's leadership to decide exactly what's in it.