Oct. 29–PRINCETON — The West Virginia Coal Association is working shoulder to shoulder with FACES (the Federation for American Coal, Energy & Security) to encourage people in the coalfield region to ask their senators to either vote on H.R. 2018, the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011” or a companion piece of legislation that could come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate soon.
The house passed H.R. 2018, the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011” in July with solid bipartisan support, but the Senate is yet to address the issue. The bill includes protections for states that already have EPA-approved water quality standards and permitting authority under the Clean Water Act; sets reasonable time limits for agency comment periods and helps reduce pointless bureaucratic delays in the section 404B permitting process; and places limits on EPA’s ability to veto dredge and fill permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and gives states more flexibility to administer these permitting programs, according to the FACES press release.
“We’ve been running radio ads since July, encouraging people to contact their senators and ask them to take up the issue,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. “I know the environmentalists are putting out a lot of information about it being an attack on the Clean Water Act, but it’s really a states’ rights issue.”
Raney said H.R. 2018 “gives the authority back to the states where the original legislation intended it to be. It’s imperative that we get the senate to address this issue,” he said. “We’re working with U.S. Senator (Joe) Manchin (III, D-W.Va.) but it’s difficult to get something like this past (U.S.) Senator (Harry) Reid (D-Nev.).”
Raney said that the environmental community “has tried to emotionalize the issue, when it’s not an attempt to remove the Clean Water Act. It’s just an attempt to get states’ rights back into the bill,” he said.