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Byrd won't back Rockefeller's attempt to limit EPA power

By Steven Mufson

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), coal state colleague of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), said he won't back Rockefeller's legislative efforts to limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants.

Byrd's statement is a setback for Rockefeller's effort to limit EPA's power under the Clean Air Act. EPA, to defuse such efforts, has voluntarily said it would not regulate CO2 emissions from stationary sources of those emissions for a year or so to give Congress time to come up with its own climate bill.

Here's a statement released by Byrd's office:

I do not plan to cosponsor Senator Rockefeller's legislation at this time. I was encouraged by the response last week from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to a letter that I signed along with other Senators that would delay into next year the application of stronger standards regarding increased efficiency or reduced pollution at large power plants and factories. Following up on my previous conversations with her in my office, I take her at her word.

In addition, as I have pointed out in my op-ed of December 3, 2009 entitled Coal Must Embrace the Future, West Virginia needs to have a seat at the negotiating table. I am continuing to have significant discussions about how to ensure the future of coal as a long-term energy resource. I am reluctant to give up on talks that might produce benefits for West Virginia's coal interests by seeming to turn away from on-going negotiations. I will continue to negotiate with all who are earnestly engaged in the pursuit of a proper balance between saving jobs, protecting the environment and ensuring the health of our communities.

Environmental groups were happy. The Sierra Club issued a statement by its executive director Carl Pope:

When coal's biggest champion in the United States Senate indicates that what EPA is doing is reasonable, the coal industry has no leg left to stand on.

Rockefeller has been trying to join some Democrats, especially those from coal states, with Republicans led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to limit EPA's authority. The Supreme Court has ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act.


Steven Mufson

 |  March 5, 2010; 10:45 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Rockefeller pushes to rein in EPA | Next: South Africans seek U.N. climate post


Please report offensive comments below.

The EPA has no credible energy policy. To shut down carbon is to cut 85% of the world's energy mix. It is mandated impoverishment. Many will find such conditions unacceptable.

Posted by: rainsong | March 5, 2010 3:02 PM
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