Capito takes coal ash legislation to finish line

The House recently passed the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, bringing Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) one step closer to fulfilling her legislative goals to protect West Virginia jobs and keep electrical costs down.

The legislation, offered by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), would protect the recycling of coal ash and give states the authority to set their own standards for the disposal of fly ash. The Environmental Protection Agency would have oversight over the process to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal that is produced daily in nearly every state. Regulatory uncertainty and the lack of measures for recycling and reusing the material have stifled the industry for several years.

Capito, the cosponsor of the bill, came to the House floor before the vote to urge her colleagues to approve the legislation that she said would protect jobs.

“I’m supporting the framework for state regulation that will ensure that coal ash will be used productively,” Capito said.

Capito said she recently visited the Sutton Dam in her district.

“And I can tell you, I was there when it was built and I was there 50 years later,” Capito said. “As they were describing the Sutton Dam and how successful it’s been-and it’s still a fortress of strength, holding the water back-they started talking about the construction materials used 50 years ago. And guess what? Coal ash was one of those construction materials that was used to strengthen this dam, and to also have it stand the test of time.”

The House approved the bill in a 265-155 vote. The Obama Administration has hinted that it may not oppose the legislation.

Capito used her time on the floor to drum up support for another bill that she cosponsored, the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013.

The bill is slated for House debate next week. Capito told her colleagues that it would prevent increases in electricity costs for millions of people across the country.

A key provision in the bill would require the EPA to send Congress a detailed report on certain costs, benefits, energy prices and job impacts before it finalizes any rule related to energy.

Capito said passing the bill would help seniors and people on fixed incomes who struggle to heat and cool their homes due to the high cost of electricity that often result with EPA rules.

The Energy Consumers Relief Act has been previously debated four times on the floor. Capito said she is confident it will pass.