CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation authored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., to block creation of tough new nationwide regulations on the handling and disposal of toxic ash from coal-fired power plants.
The measure passed by a vote of 267-144, with 37 Democrats voting in favor of it. Along with McKinley, the bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va.
McKinley promoted his legislation as a way to block what he believes is more excessive regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to protect companies that recycle coal ash into other products.
"This is not a time for people who dislike fossil fuels to be pushing their own ideology and philosophy," McKinley said Friday morning on the House floor, during early debate on the measure.
While pushing the coal-ash legislation, McKinley has received nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions this election cycle in mining industry donations -- the most of any member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. McKinley has also received nearly $50,000 from the electric utility sector, the center said.
Opponents of the coal-ash bill said it, if eventually made law, would stop EPA efforts to regulate more strictly a mounting coal industry threat to public health and the environment.
Lisa Evans, a coal-ash expert with the group Earthjustice, said that McKinley's bill "neuters the EPA's effort to establish the first ever federal regulations for toxic coal ash, America's second-largest industrial waste stream."
Earlier this week, the White House stopped short of threatening a veto, but said the legislation "undermines the federal government's ability to ensure that requirements for management and disposal of coal combustion residuals are protective of human health and the environment."