CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is warning the Obama administration again of "unreasonable" pollution rules, offering Monday to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency craft greenhouse gas emissions standards that would be more workable for the coal industry.
Tomblin's statements were announced in a press release in which the governor's office said Tomblin had met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to update the EPA on remediation and "continued recovery" from last month's Elk River chemical spill.
"Since January 9, we have been working day-in, day-out to ensure public health and safety for the 300,000 West Virginians affected by the Elk River chemical spill," Tomblin said in the release. "This event is not only a significant public health issue, but also an environmental and economic development issue."
In the press release, the governor's office said during the meeting with McCarthy, Tomblin also "shared recommendations for establishing carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for existing power plants."
Tomblin had on Friday sent McCarthy a letter about carbon dioxide emissions limits for existing power plants that the EPA is under orders from President Obama to issue by June.
"Environmental stewardship is fundamental to the everyday lives of West Virginians," Tomblin said in the letter. "We enjoy hunting, fishing, and the beautiful views of our mountains and valleys.
"West Virginians also understand the importance of a hard day's work, but up until this point, I believe that EPA has not sufficiently considered the real life adverse consequences of sweeping greenhouse gas regulations," the governor's letter said.
"Regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will have profound and far-reaching effects on West Virginia and many other areas," Tomblin wrote. "An unreasonable regulatory structure could destabilize our once-reliable electric power grid, increase energy costs to vulnerable taxpayers, further burden industrial employers, and devastate coal-mining families and communities."
The governor offered to "work with EPA in developing reasonable standards that balance the environment and economic opportunity," and provided McCarthy with a 17-page document called, "West Virginia's Principles to Consider in Establishing Carbon Dioxide Emissions Guidelines for Existing Power Plants."
In the document, the state Department of Environmental Protection advocates giving state regulatory agencies "maximum flexibility" and extended compliance deadlines for coming up with plans to meet EPA's eventual rules for greenhouse emissions from existing power plants.
The document goes into detail about the coal industry's economic impact on West Virginia, but says little about the threat climate change presents to society, and does not explicitly support the idea that action on the issue is needed.
"Put simply, if the wrong programs are put into place, the results could be devastating to the state economy and cascade West Virginia into a severe recession from which it may never recover," the DEP document says.