To the editor:
After reading some letters from fellow West Virginians regarding a bill authored by U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, which recently passed the House of Representatives, I realize that there continues to be much confusion surrounding what effect this legislation will have on all of us.
For instance, I've seen many complaints from people accusing our congressman of being unconcerned about the impact this bill will have on the both environment and our health.
Do they not know that this bill actually strengthens state regulatory authority over these materials under the Solid Waste Disposal Act? This bill gives the state more authority to regulate the disposal of coal ash. Not only that, it makes the requirements for disposal of coal ash more stringent so that accidents like those that happened under the old regulations are much less likely.
People who are concerned about improper disposal and landfill spills should rejoice over this legislation as it raises the standards to prevent such accidents. I am appalled that many in the community have gotten themselves caught up in the Obama administration's ideologically driven war against coal and completely overlooked the fact that this bill will actually give greater protection to both the environment and their health. In fact, this bill is so well-written and bipartisan that one-third of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Democrats - including those with near-perfect lifetime ratings from the League of Conservation Voters; the United Mine Workers of America, which even supported cap-and-trade; Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat; and the Environmental Council of the States, comprised of the top environmental protection officers in each state - have supported and endorsed this piece of legislation.
The very things these people have complained about - landfill spills and improper disposal - are corrected by this bill. I am dumbfounded that they are complaining instead of thanking McKinley for not only the 316,000 jobs studies have shown his bill will save, but the extra steps he took to make sure we are also being responsible as it relates to the environment.
I applaud McKinley for protecting the thousands of West Virginia jobs that depend on the coal industry by passing this piece of legislation. He is working hard for the people of West Virginia and deserves our appreciation. This is a good bill that has received support from many Democrats in the Senate, including our very own Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller. Even the White House has declined to take a stand against this bill. All West Virginians should rally behind this bill - it is pro-West Virginia and pro-jobs. To say otherwise is just wrong.
Bill Smith Jr.
Chairman, Brooke County