The spill from a Freedom Industries tank yard situated alongside the Elk River caused a “no drinking—no bathing” order to be issued for more than 300,000 people in West Virginia. The chemical 4-methyl-cyclohexane-methanol, or MCHM, is used to clean coal. (Note: not for clean coal, but for cleaning coal).
The reporter asked me, “Will this stop the Republican Party from its “war on coal” rhetoric, and will they stop talking about over regulation?”
The first line of defense for environmental protection is state government. West Virginia’s governor’s mansion and legislature have been and are now firmly in Democratic control. The better question for the reporter to have asked is, how can we get West Virginia Democrats to recognize that a healthy environment should be a bi-partisan priority?
I pointed out to the reporter that leading Republicans have advocated for the end to mountain top removal (MTR), the hideous practice of blowing the tops off Appalachian mountains for easier access to coal seams. The waste material is pushed into valleys, ruining streams and the way of life for tens of thousands of people who’ve made those hollows home for generations. But, efforts to stop the practice have been thwarted by West Virginia’s Democrat elected officials.
Republicans are not opposed to appropriate regulation; we are opposed to over-regulation. Reports from West Virginia claim that the plant where the spill occurred had not been inspected by regulators since 1991. That’s not over-regulation by any definition. That’s not regulation by any term.
It’s past time for Democratic leadership in West Virginia to support appropriate regulation to protect citizens and the environment.