Delegate Gary Howell (R-49th) last week introduced a bill designed to limit the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency over West Virginia coal mining operations. It will enable mines that only sell to West Virginia customers to ignore the EPA and only deal with state officials. Though the number of mines affected by this bill are few in number, it represents an effort to assert state rights under the tenth amendment against the expansion of federal power. This bill is very similar to gun manufacturing laws passed last year in Ohio and Montana.
The EPA has withdrawn permits assigned to mines, putting thousands of West Virginians out of work. Both Obama and Biden spoke about ending the coal industry in the United States during the 2008 presidential campaign. Despite the antipathy of the national Democratic Party to coal, Democrats in the Mountain State have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.
Delegates Linda Sumner (R-Raleigh), Ray Canterbury (R-Greenbrier), Carol Miller (R-Cabell), Kelli Sobonya (R-Cabell), John Ellem (R-Wood), Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson), Walter Duke (R-Berkeley), Finance Chairman H.K. White (D-Mingo), Economic Development and Small Business Chairman Steve Kominar (D-Mingo) and Rupert Phillips (D-Lincoln).