Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gov. Manchin Expresses "Concern" Regarding Oversight of MTR

Earlier this evening, Gov. Joe Manchin issued the following statement about the Obama Administration's announcement to strengthen oversight and regulation for Mountaintop Removal Mining:
STATEMENT FROM GOV. MANCHIN AND DEP SECRETARY RANDY HUFFMAN: ABOUT OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin and DEP Secretary Randy Huffman released this statement today about the Obama Administration’s action to strengthen oversight and regulation for surface mining:

Gov. Joe Manchin explained, "Early this morning, I spoke with chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about today’s announcement; I shared my concerns about how this decision impacts West Virginia families.

“I think that we all agree that surface mining must have proper oversight. As I have said before, with a new administration comes new policies and this administration has the right to evaluate past policies to determine where improvements can be made.”

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman noted, “While the federal government in its evaluation might have determined that minimal oversight was used previously in federal regulation regarding surface mining, in West Virginia we have used and will continue to use a high standard of oversight. West Virginia has significantly increased its regulatory standards for surface mining since we gained primacy over the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act in the early 1980s, and will continue to make changes as information is gathered and technology changes. The EPA, Department of the Interior, and the US Army Corps of Engineers believe their part of the regulatory process needs more attention and we will be paying very close attention to the changes they propose.”

Gov. Joe Manchin added, “I have always said that mining is vital to West Virginia’s economy, but at the same time, we must constantly look for ways to improve mine safety and operate in an environmentally responsible way. That is why today I asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to examine our Post-Mine Land Use legislation that was recently passed in the special session. I explained how responsible this piece of legislation is and how it will assist us in finding the balance between protecting our environment and protecting our jobs.

“We will continue to work with the federal government to ensure that coal companies comply with environmental regulations every step of the way, so that the environment is protected while the West Virginia economy stays strong and our people stay working. We also ask for the administration to work with us to find the balance between our economy and our environment.

“I truly believe that coal is essential in meeting our nation’s energy needs and keeping our economy strong and competitive, while allowing our country to be less dependent on foreign oil and more secure. Rest assured, I will continue to do everything I possibly can to fight for West Virginia families and the jobs that support them.”

Both Gov. Joe Manchin and DEP Secretary Randy Huffman, with their staffs, will continue to evaluate the MOU in the coming days.
What I don't understand is if things really are as Sec. Huffman says, "in West Virginia we have used and will continue to use a high standard of oversight. West Virginia has significantly increased its regulatory standards for surface mining since we gained primacy over the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act in the early 1980s" then why does the Governor feel the need to share his "concerns" about the Obama Administration's action to strengthen oversight and regulation for surface mining?

Perhaps, WV DEP isn't doing as well as they claim? Nah, that couldn't be it. Could it?

(Posted orginally as a comment on WVaBlue.com.)

1 comment:

Hoyt said...

Rest assured, I will continue to do everything I possibly can to fight for West Virginia families and the jobs that support them.”

Maybe Governor Manchin will file another amicus brief with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals about his concerns.