Ashton Marra Published

Scientist Calls Proposed EPA Standards 'Modest' and Good First Step


Since this week’s announcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposing new regulations that will require states to cut carbon dioxide emission by 2030, West Virginia lawmakers and industry representatives alike have spoken out against them.

The scientific community, however, is speaking out in support of the changes, some even saying they don’t go far enough to combat the growing issues of climate change.

“We thought these were pretty reasonable and relatively modest first steps,” Angela Anderson, director of the Climate and Energy Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Anderson said the regulations could have gone further, and may need to be more strict in the future, but the announcement that anything is being done, she said, was an exciting one.

“Unlike other kinds of air pollution that comes out of those smoke stacks, we’ve let carbon go uncontrolled and it’s having an impact on our climate,” she said.

“It’s really terrific just to begin to set an example that it’s time that we regulate that form of pollution.”

The proposed regulations are just that, proposed, and will go through a public comment period with possible changes before they are implemented next year.

Anderson said in that time, it is important for states to come up with a plan that meets the EPA standards, but that also takes into consideration the fears of the public, in particular the loss of jobs and increases in utility prices that industry says is inevitable.

“West Virginia can and should pay attention to what it’s going to take creating a plan for the state that takes care of consumers and workers through the process,” Anderson said.

“It’s something that’s completely doable, but it’s imperative that the folks of West Virginia demand it from their state.”

Anderson pointed to a partnership between nine northeastern states who are working to cut their emission in half by 2030, going further than the 30 percent requirement proposed by the EPA.

A partnership, Anderson said, is something that could work for West Virginia. Essentially, that would mean working with other states whose emissions aren’t as high as West Virginia’s giving the state more time to meet federal requirements.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said Monday the option to create state or regional partnerships to help states reach their goals is one West Virginia will be looking at, but he didn’t believe it would be a successful one.