West Virginia’s clean air, fresh water and deep woods are why generations of families love this beautiful state. Yet a recent funding grab by the state Legislature raises a question: Where do legislators loyalties lie when it comes to keeping West Virginia's air clean? With citizens or polluters?
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring West Virginia lawmakers to replace $1 million they took from a fund meant for limiting air pollution that causes human health effects, the Beckley Register-Herald reported recently.
In apparent violation of federal law, lawmakers took the money from the fund when creating the budget for fiscal year 2017, amid a budget shortfall. Trouble is, that this opened the door to all sorts of health concerns. The Register-Herald story notes:
Companies that emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, lead, particulate matter, hazardous air pollutants, and volatile organic compounds must receive permits from the state DEP to emit those air pollutants, which include emissions linked to cancer, premature death in people with heart and lung disease, aggravated asthma, birth defects, and other health effects, as well as climate change.
As part of the permit process, they agree to keep those emissions under a certain level to protect human health.
Taking the money out of the state’s air pollution fund risked a federal takeover of West Virginia's air pollution permitting program. So, not only did heedless legislators show lack of concern for the health of West Virginia families. They endangered the state from being able to handle its own affairs.
Keeping the Mountain State’s air clean and ensuring the health of West Virginia children and adults is a basic responsibility of state government. Their loyalty should lie with protecting us and our state’s resources, not with polluting industries.