Thursday's rules affect only power plants that haven't been built yet, but Boettner noted that the EPA is expected to enact carbon-emission standards for existing power plants in the near future.
"It is very shortsighted for state leaders to gamble our state's future with an all-or-nothing strategy against the EPA, instead of offering workable solutions that will move our state forward," he said.
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said he believes the White House is "not paying attention to anybody. They are trying to put an economy together which will further restrict the ability of our people to continue to work, to create jobs, to expand existing power plants and to build new power plants.
"This is being done without any consideration of what the impact will be on consumers," Raney said.
If the price of natural gas rises, Raney said -- he noted it historically has been volatile -- the country could need new coal-fired plants that would be stymied by the new EPA regulations.
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said the Obama administration has decided "to cut our nation's most abundant source of fuel, coal, out of the mix. Under this proposed set of regulations, there will be no more coal-fired power plants built in the United States.
"People can say all they want about the possibility of using carbon capture and storage [CCS] technology on new plants," Roberts said, "but the reality is that, absent significant support from the government, no utility will make the commitment to spend billions to add unproven CCS capability to their new power plants."
Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said, "I am dead-set against the EPA and their scheme to issue emissions standards that would make it next to impossible for new coal-fired power plants to be constructed. . . . The agency is preventing abundant American coal from meeting America's future energy needs."
He said the EPA's proposals would result in higher electricity bills for families and businesses, in lower national energy independence and in lost jobs for coal miners.
Rockefeller said he always has believed "any clean coal policy must, at its core, have the interests of miners and their families in mind -- and that new technology is the best and only way to secure their future."
Jeremy Richardson, a West Virginian who now works for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "Recent U.S. Department of Energy projections for coal production predicted not many new coal plants were going to be built anyway. A lot of that has to do with growing competition from natural gas."
"The real question is whether we want a hard landing or a soft landing from coal," Boettner said. "Since many state leaders have put all of their energy into denouncing the EPA, instead of workable and positive solutions for the state, it very well could be a hard landing for many working families, especially those in the Southern coalfields. That would be a tragedy."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.