The West Virginia legislature will consider bills that would free mines producing coal exclusively for use within the state from federal regulation.
Delegate Gary Howell (R. – Mineral) introduced HB2214 last week, and Sen. Dave Sypolt (R – Preston) introduced a companion bill SB56 in the Senate. The Intrastate Coal and Use Act would make the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection the sole entity issuing coal mining permits to companies that produce and sell coal exclusively within the borders of West Virginia.
The act rests on the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution, and the West Virginia state constitution.
Section two, Article I of the West Virginia Constitution, states: “The government of the United States is a government of enumerated powers, and all powers not delegated to it, nor inhibited to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people thereof.” Specifically enumerated among those “powers so reserved to the states is the exclusive regulation of their own internal government and police; and it is the high and solemn duty of the several departments of government, created by this Constitution, to guard and protect the people of this state from all encroachments upon the rights so reserved.”
While the Constitution does delegate the authority to regulate interstate commerce to the federal government, the power to regulate commerce within a state’s borders remains with that state government. And the meaning of the term “commerce,” as used by the framers of the Constitution, did not include activities such as mining.
“The federal government has overstepped its constitutional authority. They are costing West Virginia jobs; they are putting unnecessary hardships on West Virginians, and our founding fathers gave us the tools to run our state as we see fit,” Howell said. “As West Virginians with hundreds of years of coal mining roots, we understand the industry better than Washington bureaucrats, and should be able to govern it accordingly.”
The House bill was referred to the House Energy, Industry and Labor, Economic Development and Small Business Committee. The Senate bill was referred to the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee.
If you live in West Virginia, contact members of both the House and Senate committees and urge them to pass the Intrastate Coal and Use Act. You can find Senate committee contact information HERE, and House committee information HERE.