Government, News

Area leaders push Manchin, Capito to halt emissions change to EPA vehicles rule

MORGANTOWN — Four local leaders are urging Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to petition the Environmental Protection Agency and halt a change to a 7-year old standard that resulted in cleaner emission from vehicles.

Del. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, joined Morgantown Mayor Bill Kawecki, Dr. Penny Dacks of Mountaineers for Progress, and Morgantown Green Team leader and WVU professor Jim Kotcon in the hopes the senators would speak with EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler on the state’s behalf.

“These clean car standards that we’re talking about today, these are going to save us money over the long term,” Hansen said at a press conference Wednesday.

Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization, estimates West Virginia has saved $220 million due to strong fuel economy vehicles — further estimating each West Virginia household is $3,500 richer due to the current standards in place.

“We’ll save money, create jobs and protect the environment,” Hansen said. “These types of policies deserve our support here in West Virginia, but more importantly we need to see some support in D.C., from Sens. Manchin and Capito.”
The current EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards on fuel economy for light-duty vehicles were expected to nearly double the efficiency of new cars and light trucks by 2025.

Those standards, now in danger of being rolled back, were first adopted under the Obama Administration.

The Trump Administration argued a rollback can further save consumers money when they purchase new vehicles without excessively harming the environment through the emission standards changes.

“These clean car standards allow states to set their own standards and to guide innovation,” Hansen said. “And currently, there’s about 15 states that have adopted even greater safeguards than the national standards, and I think that’s a good thing. As a legislator, I appreciate allowing states the flexibility to take the steps that they think are important to protect air quality in their local areas.”
Dacks, a scientist and member of Mountaineers for Progress, wants her kids to inherit a clean planet with plenty of economic opportunity.

“In West Virginia, we face a lot of hard choices,” she said. “We’re constantly debating how do we do both of those things in our state? This is not one of those hard choices. This is pretty cut and dry.”
Kawecki said the current standards need protection.

“Allowing automobile makers to make dirtier cars that can pollute and harm the air and harm our health is not a solution,” Kawecki said. “And to trust that they won’t make dirtier cars is not assured.”
Kotcan said the bottom line is simple: West Virginians who support these standards need help from their Washington, D.C., delegation.

“Specifically, because there’s not a formal bill before the Congress at this point, we would like the senators to actually contact the EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and tell him explicitly that West Virginia does not want those clean car standards shelved at this time,” Kotcan said.
TWITTER @wvradiospiel