Byrd steers clear of Rockefeller bid to block EPA climate rules

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) isn’t backing colleague Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) new bill to force a two-year timeout before EPA can implement rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities.

Both are advocates of their home state’s coal industry. But Byrd doesn’t think Rockefeller’s plan is needed because EPA has already pledged to move cautiously on the rules and will not begin implementing them this year.

“I do not plan to cosponsor Senator Rockefeller’s legislation at this time.  I was encouraged by the response last week from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to a letter that I signed along with other Senators that would delay into next year the application of stronger standards regarding increased efficiency or reduced pollution at large power plants and factories. Following up on my previous conversations with her in my office, I take her at her word,” Byrd said in a prepared statement.

Byrd suggested that trying to block EPA outright isn’t the best strategy for coal.

“As I have pointed out in my op-ed of December 3, 2009 entitled ‘Coal Must Embrace the Future,’ West Virginia needs to have a seat at the negotiating table. I am continuing to have significant discussions about how to ensure the future of coal as a long-term energy resource. I am reluctant to give up on talks that might produce benefits for West Virginia’s coal interests by seeming to turn away from on-going negotiations.  I will continue to negotiate with all who are earnestly engaged in the pursuit of a proper balance between saving jobs, protecting the environment and ensuring the health of our communities,” Byrd said.