At Tuesday's meeting, Wetzel County Commissioners decided against getting in the middle of a nationwide debate about S.J. Res. 37, a Congressional Joint Resolution of Disapproval that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward with a new rule known as Utility MACT.
Utility MACT requires coal- and oil-fired power plants to install scrubbers or other equipment to reduce emissions of mercury, nine other metals, and three acid gases by 91 percent within three years.
Commissioner Scott Lemley discouraged supporting the measure, stating it was not an issue that should be taken up by the county commission and "sometimes something like this requires a neutral stance."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) came out in favor of the EPA-limiting measure Tuesday.
On the very same day the commissioners decided against sending senators a resolution stating that the commission backed legislation to limit EPA regulations, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) came out in favor of the EPA-limiting measure.
Saying the Utility MACT would hurt jobs in West Virginia and around the country, Manchin said, "From the day I arrived in the Senate, I have been determined to stop the EPA's jobs-killing agenda, and this Resolution of Disapproval takes an important step to rein in this out-of-control agency."
According to the press release from Manchin's office, the rule, which was finalized in December, would require power plants to comply within an unrealistic timeframe. The consequences of the rule include thousands of lost jobs, an unstable electric grid, and skyrocketing utility prices for families and businesses.
"The EPA needs to be our ally, not our adversary, and work with states like West Virginia that can produce domestic resources to make this country less dependent on foreign energy and more secure as a nation," said Manchin. "I'm very hopeful that in the coming weeks we will finally be able to come together across the aisle to bring a balance to our environment and economy and develop a true comprehensive energy policy."
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) filed the Resolution of Disapproval (S.J. Res. 37) under the Congressional Review Act and thanked Senator Manchin Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor for his support for the measure. Senator Manchin was presiding at the time that Senator Inhofe delivered his remarks.
"A growing number of elected officials are working across the aisle to save coal and the first Senate Democrats are beginning to come aboard. I want to commend Senator Joe Manchin, who happens to be occupying the chair at this time," Senator Inhofe said on the floor.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has not given a recent stance on the matter. However, on March 8 he issued the following statement on boiler MACT regulations: "Voting against these is just putting off the inevitable. That's not good for the health of West Virginians and it doesn't make any sense. The folks who don't want to make these changes now won't want to make them in a few years. Now is the time for businesses to focus on innovation and the exploration of clean energy sources and better waste handling practices, not rolling back clean air and public health protections. We must no longer delay an act that is designed to protect the health and wellbeing of West Virginians and others."
The resolution is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate soon -- perhaps on Friday.
In other matters, county commissioners reappointed all four members of the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board of Directors. The members include Larry Tackett of West Virginia Northern Community College, Matt Herrick of Wayside Furniture, Sarah Boley of Wetzel County Hospital, and Deanna Jones of Workforce. Herrick was appointed to the executive board.
Also, Vice President Bob Gorby brought forth the request from a nonprofit veterans' group to use the stage at the 4-H grounds after Town & Country Days. The group, a division of the American Legion, will use the stage for a bluegrass concert festival, as well as the grounds for a car show.
Next week's agenda includes a discussion on the new placement of 15 ton weight limit signs on the Main Street Bridge in New Martinsville, as well as the state's funding of 80 percent of the costs to rehabilitate the piers.