West Virginia Democrats who criticized the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration for its "war on coal" will meet with new EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
The meeting will take place Aug. 1, when 17 state Democratic lawmakers travel to the nation's capital to defend the coal industry against onerous EPA regulations that have been shutting down coal-fired power plants across the country.
West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio, one of the organizers of the trip, said the meeting will be with McCarthy and as-yet unnamed senior White House advisers.
Puccio said the meeting shows that the Obama administration is taking state lawmakers' concerns over EPA coal regulations seriously. At least Democratic state lawmakers. No Republican state lawmakers will be in the Thursday meeting.
McCarthy denied any animosity toward coal during a July 28 interview with the New York Times. "We don't have a war on coal," she said. "We're doing our business, which is to reduce pollution. We're following the law."
But the data and state outrage suggest otherwise. Already, 205 coal-fired power plants are expected to close due to EPA regulations, resulting in as many as 17,000 jobs lost. So far, 15,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity have been lost under Obama, with another 37,000 megawatts expected to be lost in the next 10 years.
Coal power accounts for 42 percent of America's energy supply, but the Obama administration believes renewable energy will overtake that percentage between 2025 and 2035. But given the fact that renewables only account for about 12 percent of electricity currently, that hope might not be rewarded.
Puccio expects 16 people to attend the meeting, although he is still unsure exactly who will be in attendance.