On October 6, Manchin filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s EPA for holding up the permitting process for coal mining operations in West Virginia. Manchin said the lawsuit specifically challenges the court to declare the EPA’s actions improper and illegal. State officials have spoken with officials in Virginia and Kentucky about possibly joining in the lawsuit. The EPA permitting procedures affect permits in several eastern coal states. The agency has clearly targeted moutaintop mining operations in West Virginia.
A recent study by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Minority Staff highlighted the economic effect of the EPA’s ongoing moratorium on coal mining permits in Central Appalachia. According to the study, nearly 18,000 new and existing jobs and more than 80 small businesses are being jeopardized by the policy the EPA had applied to 190 permits awaiting action as of May 2010. State officials are also upset over the proposed EPA water quality standards for mining operations issued April 1; standards they say not only threaten to end surface mining in West Virginia, but will affect all mining in the Appalachian region.
Obviously a move like this would draw support from his constituents during an election cycle. The West Virginia Coal Association unanimously endorses Gov. Manchin for the U.S. Senate. The association believes Manchin offers a common-sense approach to the issues facing our nation. Even though he may be slow to react, Gov. Manchin has stood up to his own party leadership when he thought it was wrong. Earlier this year, Coal Age reported he told President Obama in face-to-face meetings that he is wrong to vilify coal. He also opposes cap-and-tax, which is part of Tea Party’s anti-tax platform.
Similarly, many policymakers in the West are growing frustrated with the Obama administration. The Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses recently published a report, The War on Western Jobs. The caucuses identified 10 specific areas in which Washington’s failed policies and overreaching regulations are destroying western jobs and hurting rural communities. A landslide victory for the Republicans, similar to what occurred in 1994, would be a welcome relief for business, especially the mining business.