CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Following President Biden’s participation in the World Climate Summit where he and 40 other leaders vowed to slash greenhouse emissions by 2030, West Virginia’s Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito is also calling on environmental justice — but for the state of West Virginia.
This week, Capito took her concerns on Biden’s climate change agenda to the EPA’s newly appointed secretary Michael Regan and told him she thought it was “federal overreach” and that more regulations could hurt the state.
But not everyone in West Virginia agrees with her stance.
“I fear that the Biden Administration intends to double down on its regulation of the American energy sector while letting China take our place as a global energy leader,” said Capito.
Capito is not the only republican on capitol hill who feels this way about President Biden’s infrastructure plan and his climate change policies.
Still, Capito represents the state that has been hit hardest by the declining coal industry.
“The decline of the coal industry has cost the state of West Virginia 15,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in direct economic impact,” she said.
“Economic loss has left behind a cycle of drug abuse, poverty, despair, and health implications.”
“Economic loss has left behind a cycle of drug abuse, poverty, despair, and health implications.”Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
As a ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she asked EPA secretary Michael Regan to rethink the term ‘environmental justice.’
“I think sometimes we struggle to define environmental justice, what it is and it is not,” she said.
Environmentalists in West Virginia, however, have been saying for years that it’s time to invest in climate change action.
“It’s the typical environment versus jobs narrative,” said Linda Frame, president of the West Virginia Environmental Council.
Frame says there are billions of dollars in President Biden’s infrastructure plan to clean up oil and gas wells left behind, and to plug mines.
“When you read her message in its entirety, she’s really talking about environmental justice for the coal industry,” said Frame.
“When you read her message in its entirety, she’s really talking about environmental justice for the coal industry.”Linda Frame
Less justice for industry, and more justice for the coal communities she says.
“Because really what’s happening is the coal industry is leaving a legacy of its dirty industry behind,” said Frame.