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W.Va. congressman gets items into House budget

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — U.S. Rep. Alex X. Mooney, R-W.Va., was able to get three items included in the budget approved Thursday by the House Budget Committee, of which he is a member.

Two of the items would directly affect West Virginia’s mining and manufacturing industries.

In a telephone interview Friday, Mooney said he was able to defund new stream buffer regulations.

“The regulations would prohibit surface mining in West Virginia,” he said. “That was taken out.”

According to information posted on Mooney’s website, “the proposed (stream buffer) regulations would ban mining operations within 100 feet of anything the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) defines as a ‘stream.'”

The rule would have a disproportionate impact on West Virginia, according to the website, because of the state’s mountainous topography, eliminating mining jobs and making coal reserves harder to recover.

Mooney also said he was able to defund new EPA ozone standards.

“The science doesn’t justify more restrictions,” he said. “At some point, you just have to say no.”

In 2008, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone was lowered from 84 parts per billion to 75. The EPA has proposed lowering the standard to as low as 60 parts per billion. More than 34 of West Virginia’s 55 counties would be automatically out of compliance if the level was lowered, including counties in the Eastern Panhandle.

According to Mooney’s website, the proposed reduction in ozone levels would cost West Virginia an estimated 10,658 jobs and $17 billion in gross state product by 2040.

The third item Mooney was able to have included in the House budget was defunding the Legal Services Corporation, “an agency which operates far outside its original mandate after decades absent any congressional oversight,” he said in a news release.

LSC funds civil legal aid for low-income Americans through competitive grants to local public defender organizations, according to its website.

“We passed a balanced budget, which is in stark contrast to the Obama budget,” Mooney said Friday. “We have to make cuts, make tough decisions and hold the line on spending. These are the things I campaigned on – West Virginia values – and I have to keep my word.”

The budget is expected to be voted on by the full House Thursday, Mooney said.

He represents West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district, which stretches from the crest of Blue Ridge Mountain to the banks of the Ohio River. Mooney is a resident of Jefferson County.

– Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128.

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