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Manchin co-sponsors bill to curb ozone rules

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Another federal bill to restrict environmental regulations impacting energy prices and economic growth has been introduced by a West Virginia senator.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., have introduced the Clean Air, Strong Economies Acts to curb the economic harm caused by establishing the ground-level ozone standard at an unprecedented low value and requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to first address air quality in the worst regions before lowering ground-level ozone, smog, standards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

“I’ve always said we need to strike a balance between the environment and the economy, which is what this bill does,” Manchin said. “Placing new, costly regulations on states when they have not had sufficient time to comply with the existing standards is unfair.”

Lowering ozone standards will cost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, Manchin said.

“We need the EPA and our federal government to work with us as allies, not as adversaries who continually implement onerous regulations and move the goalposts before we even have a chance to comply,” he said.

The permitted level of ground-level ozone was lowered from 84 ppb to the 75 ppb in 2008 and counties exceeding standard are non-attainment areas that must implement expensive compliance plans, Manchin said. The EPA in November further proposed lowering the 75 ppb to 70-65 ppb.

There are 227 counties in 27 states considered in non-attainment under 75 ppb. The act requires 85 percent of areas not meeting the 75 ppb standard to comply before the EPA reduces it again.

In other buiness, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., chaired an Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing on for the Library of Congress and Architect of the Capitol.

Manchin and Capito announced $1.5 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been awarded to the Governor’s Highway Safety Office to improve highway safety programs in the state.

“The safety of West Virginia’s roadways is vital,” Capito said.

The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a hearing today on the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The legislation creates a state-based program regulating the safe management and disposal of coal ash.

“The EPA’s regulations offer more confusion and no reassurances that President Obama won’t change his mind later,” McKinley said.

Capito also supported a bill to end breast cancer by 2020.

The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act of 2015 establishes a commission to identify promising research, encourage public-private partnerships and trans-disciplinary collaboration toward ending breast cancer.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., said the House Committee on the Budget’s Balanced Budget for a Stronger America includes three items he proposed: defunding new stream buffer regulations, defunding new ozone standard regulations and defunding the Legal Services Corp.

The new stream buffer and ozone regulations “will stop the President’s War on Coal in its tracks,” Mooney said. Defunding the Legal Services Corp. cuts unnecessary spending, he said.

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