Here we go again on coal ash
In today's column about the politicians who may be running for governor of West Virginia in 2016, Michael Myer once again asserts that Representative David McKinley has personally forced the EPA to back down:
McKinley has fought the president tooth and nail, scoring one of the few victories against Obama in the war on coal. The congressman can claim credit for forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to back away from a ridiculous plan to regulate coal ash as toxic waste.
I have searched and searched, googling all sorts of word combinations, but I have found nothing to suggest that this happened. Myer and the Intelligencer have mentioned this three times since December 19 when the EPA modified their stance on coal ash. While a number of the articles mention him as an opponent of the EPA, none give him credit for affecting the final decision. Even so, the Intelligencer started praising McKinley for this before that date. On September 6 of last year, Myer wrote the following:
McKinley has been one of Capitol Hill's staunchest defenders of coal and reasonably priced electricity. In fact, he led the fight against an Environmental Protection Agency plan to regulate coal ash as a toxic waste material.
So effective was McKinley's action that the EPA admitted it was wrong and backed away from the plan.
In my quest for the validity of this factoid, I have even searched the congressman's website figuring that he would certainly be publicizing it if he forced the EPA to back down. Again the search turned up empty.
Maybe if Wheeling "newspapers" repeat it often enough it will become true.
I wrote about McKinley's coal ash bill when it was proposed. Here's what Earthjustice says the bill would do if it is passed:
Eliminates the EPA's ban on dumping toxic coal ash directly in drinking water;
Eliminates the requirement for utilities to immediately clean up toxic releases and notify the public;
Eliminates the guarantee of public access to information about water contamination and assessments of dangerous coal ash dams;
Delays new health and safety protections--potentially for 10 years;
Weakens the EPA mandate to close inactive (contaminated and abandoned) ponds like the Dan River impoundment that burst last year by extending the closure deadline and allowing legacy ponds to operate without safeguards for at least 6 years;
Delays the closure of leaking unlined ponds that contaminate water above health standards (e.g., with arsenic), allowing polluters to continue to dump into leaking ponds for an additional 8.5 years; and
Eliminates the national standard for drinking water protection and cleanup of contaminated sites.
But don't worry, the Intelligencer told us coal ash is "harmless."