CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State Democratic lawmakers are meeting Thursday at the White House with the new leader of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and "senior advisers" to President Barack Obama.
It shows the administration is taking state lawmaker's concerns about EPA rules and regulations relating to coal seriously, said West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio.
"We are scheduled to meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and senior advisers to President Obama," Puccio said in a news release. "We are looking forward to a thoughtful and productive discussion."
Puccio announced the trip to Washington last week, but he said details about where and with whom the group would meet were still in the works. On Monday, he said he hadn't previously known they'd be able to meet with McCarthy or "senior advisers" to the president, and he's very excited for the trip.
Puccio was one of several state Democrats to speak at last week's announcement. Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, both emphasized the importance of the trip.
During last week's announcement, there was little talk about specific regulations or rules that lawmakers thought were hurting the state. After the press event, both Kessler and Miley said deadlines for coal companies to meet carbon emission standards are a concern.
The three Democratic members of the national delegation - U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall - each endorsed the trip when it was announced. Last week, Puccio said the trip is not a reflection on their efforts to voice concerns from West Virginians about the EPA or the president's energy policy.
On Monday, Puccio said the delegation helped in coordinating the trip. He did not think they asked for the state lawmakers to meet with anyone in particular.
Manchin and Rahall in particular have been outspoken in their criticism of both the EPA and the president regarding coal.
Both issued statements critical of the president's June climate policy speech, where he said cutting carbon emissions is key to a three-step plan to help the environment. In the same speech, Obama pledged up to $8 million in loan guarantee authority for states to invest in more efficient technologies at fossil fuel facilities.
Manchin is the only Senate Democrat to vote against McCarthy's recent appointment to lead the EPA. He said the vote was not necessarily against McCarthy but against Obama and the EPA's "unreasonable regulations and unobtainable standards."