I am responding to the front page article in this newspaper on Wednesday, June 11, "McKinley Leading the Charge Against EPA." West Virginia Congressman David McKinley is out of touch with reality. Rapid climate change is happening now and humans are causing it by releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. The EPA regulations on climate change are a start to dealing with this. McKinley should be helping West Virginia to comply with the new regulations.
The EPAs new regulations on greenhouse gases are long overdue. We are well into rapid climate change which is predicted to severely affect coastal areas, farming, health, and stability of governments. Many areas are already experiencing extreme storms and the high cost of rebuilding or repair. If we do not act decisively now, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with challenges they may not be able to meet.
To claim, as McKinley does, that the EPA is responsible for the loss of coal mining jobs is flat-out untrue. Coal mining jobs have been lost mainly due to mountain top removal and mechanization which needs fewer workers, and to the competitive advantage the gas industry got by Dick Cheney's 2007 exemptions from the Clean Water and Clean Act and five other environmental protections.
West Virginia is not dependent on coal mining. Coal mining contributes only 6 percent of West Virginia's gross domestic product, 6 percent of wages, and 3 percent of jobs. If McKinley is really concerned about loss of coal mining jobs, then he needs to use his influence and energy on job retraining and on bringing a diversity of businesses into the coal fields.
The conversion of power plants will create jobs, and we can embrace the change, or we can put up a big fight and watch the power plants be relocated to more welcoming states.