Friday, December 10, 2010

West Virginia Legislature Is Poised to Retaliate In the War on Coal

The original Constitution established a balance of power between the federal government, states, and the people. Protections in the original seven articles. such as state selection of senators and the Electoral College, helped to create that balance. The Tenth Amendment in no uncertain terms protected the rights of states against federal encroachment.

Over the past century, we have seen this balance erode. Popular election of senators seems more democratic, but it leaves state governments subject to congressional action while having no voice in the process. The expansion of the Interstate Comnmerce Clause to form the basis of the Civil Rights Acts was necessary only in that situation, but it has formed the basis of federal regulatory action in a wide variety of areas. Executive orders have become a dictatorial function; witness Obama's theft of over a hundred thousand acres of Alaskan land last week.

Individual Americans and state governments have passively watched these transformations for decades under the assumption that the intentions behind the accumulation of power were good. Most of them likely were intended to increase comfort and prosperity. Under Obama, however, the executive rbanch has a new agenda. It wants to slice away at American manufacturing and redistribute wealth within America and around the world. It has no problem creating artificial shortages of energy and rising prices by restricting coal and oil production. It seems to want the third world to gain more manufacturing jobs at the expense of Americans. Regulatory law has become an intolerable burden on so many facets of society from education to business. The EPA, as we have said time and time again, has made it worse.

When the federal government abuses its power, states must stand up. Governor Rick Perry of Texas refused to accept federal education dollars in exchange for giving more authority over curriculum over to the federal Department of Education. And now West Virginia is showing states how to fight the War on Coal.

Delegate Gary Howell (R) 49th is poised to introduce a bill next month that will limit the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency in West Virginia. It will deny the EPA jurisdiction over coal operations that only sell to a consumer in West Virginia. For example, if a mine only sells to the massive John Amos power plant near Charleston, its operation only falls under state authority instead of federal. This limits the scope of the EPA and potentially every federal agency if the model is followed in other areas. If passed, it could redefine the relationship between states and the federal government, restoring some of the lost balance intended by the Founding Fathers.

Some will ask if we can be sure that our environment will be protected by the state as thoroughly as the federal government. My answer is that West Virginia voters will have a lot more input on environmental policy if the state is controlling it. The EPA is as far removed from state voters as the Queen of England. It forgets that it is part of a federal republic beholden to the people. State governments will not. They will recognize the conservation agenda that balances the needs of man and of nature, not the radical environmentalists who would see West Virginians drop back to the stone age.

We must get the word out about the Intrastate Coal and Use Act both within West Virginia and around the country. This could be one of the opening shots in a true political revolution.

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