Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) led a delegation of state officials, mine industry representatives and union officials to the White House Thursday to lobby the administration to adopt more coal-friendly policies.
During the nearly hour-long meeting Thursday morning with Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy and White House legislative affairs director Miguel Rodriguez, Manchin and others argued the EPA needed to scale back its plans to impose stricter rules on both the burning and disposal of coal. Other attendees included West Virginia Gov. Ray Tomblin (D), Rep. Nick Jo Rahall (D-W.Va.) and representatives from the United Mine Workers and the National Mining Association.
In an interview, Manchin said he was particularly concerned with the administration's proposal to impose the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions limit of new power plants, which EPA is set to re propose in September.
"We don't have the technology to meet the standards," he said. "If it's unattainable, it's totally unreasonable."
The group invited McCarthy to visit West Virginia so she could see first-hand how her agency's policies were affecting the state's coal industry. Manchin, who voted against McCarthy's confirmation, said he found her more inclined "to be pragmatic" compared to her predecessor Lisa P. Jackson, but said it was unclear whether the administration would shift its approach toward coal, whose combustion is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
"We'll have to see how it plays out," he said, adding that when it comes to the administration's current policy, "They're using every tool they have to destroy the most abundant, reliable and affordable resource that we have."
EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson called it "a good and productive meeting."