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Conrad G. Lucas II: Regulate energy, no experience necessary

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By Conrad G. Lucas II

Throughout President Obama’s regulatory assault on coal powered electricity, the people of West Virginia have been ignored by this administration.

Our livelihoods have been mocked, our economy put on a path toward devastation, and our local officials snubbed as they have advocated for the affordable and reliable energy that coal power, and our state’s coal miners, provide to the nation.

The Obama Administration has chosen to govern via executive decree, particularly when it comes to environmental and energy policy.

President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy have shaped national energy policy through regulations and overreach, without the input or consideration of the United States Congress or the state governments whose constituents will be left paying the price for higher electricity costs and weakened grid reliability.

All the while, West Virginia has been ignored on policy decisions that will affect our state for decades to come. The White House and EPA have demonstrated time and again that the voices of West Virginians just don’t matter.

The latest salvo in the administration’s assault was last week’s release of EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fueled power plants.

Irrespective of the fact the Clean Air Act gives states the authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants in a manner that will protect its economy and keep electricity prices affordable for citizens, the EPA is wrongly attempting to use the law to mandate a federal prescription. Simultaneously, President Obama has nominated an overzealous enforcement agent, Mr. Norman Bay, who has zero energy experience to head up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- FERC -- the very entity charged with ensuring the reliability and the safety of our nation’s energy grid.

Mr. Bay is not currently on the commission, but has been nominated to become FERC’s chairman. While Mr. Bay has never worked in the energy industry, he has a clear record of enforcing unnecessary regulations, making him a natural choice for the Obama Administration.

Considering the treacherous path the EPA has blazed with its newly proposed regulations, protecting America’s energy grid and minimizing the likelihood of energy cost spikes is more important than ever. We don’t need a rabid enforcement agent. Sadly, President Obama doesn’t seem to have the same perspective as he has stacked his entire administration with foot soldiers whose sole mission is to carry out his climate agenda at any cost and Mr. Bay is just another member of the club.

Sen. Joe Manchin recently asked Norman Bay: “Mr. Bay, you have no direct experience in regulation of energy infrastructure or markets.

“The previous five chairmen all had more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry and as regulators before becoming chairman. Was Congress wrong when it previously required experience as a prerequisite for this position?”

Sen. Manchin knows Mr. Bay doesn’t deserve to be chairman of FERC and he owes it to the people of West Virginia to stop this nomination from advancing any further. Our legacy, our economy and our entire way of life depend on it.

Lucas is chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party.


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