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Greenhouse EmissionsA West Virginia congressman has introduced legislation that would negate the EPA’s recent carbon regulation and allow coal plants to emit as much carbon dioxide as they please.

On Tuesday, Democratic Representative Nick Rahall provided a forceful rebuttal to last week’s historic carbon regulation with his Protection and Accountability Regulatory Act of 2014. If signed into law the act would supersede the EPA’s proposal to decrease carbon emissions in the United States. The bill has been cosponsored by 66 other members of the House of Representatives, with Rahall the lone Democrat in the bunch.

But this is not a new position for Rahall. The congressman has voted several times against the interests of the environment:

  • In 2009, he voted against cap-and-trade legislation.
  • In 2011, he voted in favor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have eliminated the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse pollution.
  • In 2012, he co-signed a letter to the Office of Management and Budget asking permission for the coal industry to emit unlimited greenhouse gases.
  • In 2013, he introduced a bill that would bar the Treasury Department from levying a carbon tax.
  • Last month, he supported an amendment that would prevent the Department of Defense from using funding to address national security issues related to climate change.

This move by Rahall can be considered even more reactionary when his state’s actual carbon reduction target is taken into account. As a designated “coal state,” West Virginia has one of the lowest designated cuts, at less than 20 percent. To understand this, we need only a brief summary of how the new EPA rule works.

The EPA has proposed an average 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from current coal plants by 2030, but each state actually has its own unique reduction target, the limits tailored to each state’s needs. Washington, for instance, is not a big coal consumer and so its reduction is a sizable 72 percent. This is considered reasonable as its infrastructure will not require a major energy transition. West Virginia, however, relies on coal for at least 90 percent of its energy, and so its reduction target is 19.8 percent. Think Progress has provided a chart that displays each state’s emission regulation.

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