Mr. Manchin goes to Washington

March 25, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

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Just in from West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a report on his meeting with top Obama administration environmental officials about EPA’s crackdown on mountaintop removal permits:

WASHINGTON – Gov. Joe Manchin today released this statement after meeting with officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency:

“Late this morning, I met with senior White House environmental officials to discuss mountaintop mining and the letters sent yesterday by the EPA about mining permits. We had a very productive meeting during which I shared our concerns about the potential impact of those letters. They explained that they are evaluating a number of permits, but want to look more closely at the two mining permits in question. I told them we are looking for a balance between the environment and the economy, and they assured me that they will work with us to find that balance.

“As a result of our discussions this morning, our state Department of Environmental Protection is bringing together the mining companies that have permits in question and EPA officials. We will expedite this meeting so we can work together to resolve the concerns on these issues and build a dialogue for the future.

“With a new administration comes new policies and they will have to evaluate past policies to determine where they can make improvements. We need to give them the opportunity to sit at the table with us and find common ground.”

[UPDATED — Jim Bruggers is reporting on his KentuckianaGreen.com blog that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is getting involved, seeking “clarification” of what the EPA did yesterday].

11 Responses to “Mr. Manchin goes to Washington”

  1. Janet says:

    Manchin says that they are bringing together mining companies and EPA to discuss permits in question. What about the people who are living with the horrendous impacts of mountaintop removal and have suffered for years because of lack of enforcement by the state and the federal agencies? Don’t they deserve a seat at the table? Many have lived for generations in the areas that are now most heavily impacted; some have retired and hoped to live the rest of their lives in the peace of a mountain community. What balance can be struck when mountains are blown to smithereens, communities are obliterated, valuable hardwood forests are destroyed, water is polluted and human health is diminished. Restoring balance means ending mountaintop removal.

  2. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Janet,

    Well, I guess one could also ask why coal miners and coal companies didn’t have a seat at the table over the last two weeks while folks from OVEC and other environmental groups met with EPA and the White House.

    It might have made sense to say citizen groups were left out of the process during the Bush administration, but let’s not pretend they have no access now.

    Ken.

  3. Fred Mills says:

    I am gald to see that our state and federal officials are willing to work together to bring a balance between industy and environment. West Virginia jobs are important, we don’t want to see another generation flooding out of the state because there are no jobs available to them.

  4. Janet says:

    Hey Ken. Don’t be naive. The coal companies own the table…
    We’ve had NO access to power in Washington for many years. Nick Rahall nearly yelled us out of his office last year. No kidding.

  5. Janet says:

    And by the way, I was talking about Manching bringing mining companies and federal officials together–not meetings on the federal level. Manchin has thoroughly ignored citizens in the coalfields whose quality of life and health has been ruined by mountaintop removal.

  6. Contrarian says:

    I’ll preface my comment by saying it’s merely a gut reaction, and I could be mistaken in my views, however…

    I find it problematic that the DEP is brokering a meeting between the EPA and the coal companies. Sure, DEP is involved in permitting and knows the actors, so on one hand it makes sense. However, I also note that the governor mentioned that upon hearing of the EPA action, he:

    “…discussed concerns about the impact of this decision with the head of our state Department of Environmental Protection.”

    Impact? From an environmental protection perspective (it’s only mission), why should the DEP have any concerns? Surely, there are corporate profit/employment/energy issues involved that may raise concerns, but the DEP is not a state department of energy, nor is it the WVDO. The DEP should not concern itself with jobs or economic impacts.

    The governor’s statement says, “we are looking for a balance between the environment and the economy.” In understand the governor wants this balance, but the DEP should only tilt toward the former.

    As the DEP’s website notes:

    “The mission of the [DEP’s] Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR) is to regulate the mining industry in accordance with federal and state law. Activities include issuing and renewing permits for mineral extraction sites and related facilities, inspecting facilities for compliance, monitoring water quality, tracking ownership and control, and issuing and assessing violations.”

    “(R)egulate in accordance with state and federal law.” Seems clear. Yet, I’ve attended the energy forums and I’ve seen the DEP chief speak as a coal/energy advocate. It’s not his role, nor should it be the role of the DEP. Bill Raney does a fine job working on behalf of the coal industry, he doesn’t need any inside help.

  7. Nanette says:

    Contrarian, I have attended so many meetings with the DEP. I know exactly what you are saying. They act like they are the advocates of the mining companies, which I truly in my heart believe they are. I haven’t seen where they act as advocates for the environment. If they were we wouldn’t have poisoned wells and creeks running red. They should never have allowed that if they truly were environmental protectors.

  8. […] less than 24 hours, the industry quickly mobilized a massive army of lobbyists (2,000+ of them) and reactionary politicians (like WV Gov. Joe Manchin) to lobby against a mountaintop removal […]

  9. […] that seemed to contradict the early media reports. Moreover, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin quickly took to grandstanding and went straight to Washington today to talk with Administration officials about impacts on West […]

  10. […] that seemed to contradict the early media reports. Moreover, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin quickly took to grandstanding and went straight to Washington today to talk with Administration officials about impacts on West […]

  11. […] that seemed to contradict the early media reports. Moreover, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin quickly took to grandstanding and went straight to Washington today to talk with Administration officials about impacts on West […]

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