Nearly 300 slated to speak at epic W.Va. hearing today

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A coal magnate and sparring GOP Senate hopefuls are among the prominent foes of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan who are expected to excoriate the rule today in the heart of coal country.

So far, EPA is expecting about 270 people to testify in Charleston, W.Va., today and Wednesday on the Trump administration’s plans to repeal the rule. They include throngs of backers and opponents, many of whom will be traveling to the session from outside the Mountain State. EPA will be hearing testimony in three separate rooms of West Virginia’s State Capitol.

Some of the first speakers on the schedule include politicians and representatives of industries challenging the rule in court. Among them is Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), who is slated to speak first, according to EPA’s preliminary speaker list (which notes that the order is approximate). Up next: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who helped lead a multi-state challenge to the rule in court. Jenkins and Morrisey are competing for the Republican nomination to take on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) next fall.

Also early on the speaking list are four representatives of coal giant Murray Energy Corp., a leading critic of the Clean Power Plan. The company’s CEO, Bob Murray — a vocal supporter of President Trump — is scheduled to speak tomorrow.

The hearings could get heated. The Clean Power Plan is former President Obama’s signature climate change rule, and environmentalists and Democrats are outraged about the planned repeal. But it’s a rule that angered many in coal country, and its critics will find friendly turf in West Virginia.

Representatives of the West Virginia Coal Association, the American Petroleum Institute, American Electric Power Co. Inc., the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the Kentucky Coal Association are also expected to support the planned repeal of the rule during the two-day hearing.

Green groups and public health advocates will be out in force, too. The group Moms Clean Air Force is scheduled to have 11 representatives speak tomorrow. David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Michael Myers, who works in New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s (D) office, are also on the list of speakers. Doniger and Myers are both among those defending the Clean Power Plan in the ongoing legal battle.

EPA also released its preliminary list of Wednesday speakers.

The agency is accepting comment on its proposal to repeal the rule until Jan. 16.

Click here for more details about this week’s public hearing.