CHARLESTON, W.Va. (March 10, 2016) – A West Virginia bill that would take a small, but important, first step in setting the foundation to reject federal some EPA rules and regulations in practice passed unanimously out of the state House today and will soon head to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Gregory Boso (R-Summersville) introduced Senate Bill 691 (SB691) on Feb. 22. The legislation would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from unilaterally implementing EPA “Clean Power Plan” emission requirements.

SB691 passed the House today by a 100-0 vote. It cleared the Senate on March 1 34-0.

Under the proposed law, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to submit a report to the legislature regarding the feasibility of the state’s compliance with any EPA directive. If the department determines that the creation of a state plan is feasible, it would be required to develop and submit the proposed state plan to the legislature before submitting it to the EPA. It would also be required to publish the report for the public. The legislature would then have the option of acting in several ways.

“If the department submits a proposed state plan to the Legislature under this section, the Legislature may by act, including presentment to the Governor: (i) Authorize the department to submit the proposed state plan to the Environmental Protection Agency; (ii) authorize the department to submit the state plan with amendment; or (iii) not grant such rulemaking or other authority to the department for submission and implementation of the state plan.” [Emphasis added]

SB691 includes specific criteria the Department of Environmental Protection must take into consideration when completing its report and submitting a state plan.

While the proposed law would not guarantee the state would reject compliance with EPA mandates, it sets the foundation to do so. It also brings the entire process into the public spotlight, allowing West Virginia residents to have input into the process.

As it currently stands, the Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA can work behind the scenes to adopt such plans without any public or legislative input at all. The department acts, in practice, like a part of the federal government. SB691 reasserts some state authority over the Department of Environmental Protection and the entire process.

With the federal courts putting a “pause” on federal implementation of some of the Clean Power Plan, SB691 represents a good first step toward fully blocking unconstitutional EPA Clean Power Plan mandates. Passage would begin to place the process back in the hands of the state, thus diminishing the power of the federal agency. The legislation also sets the stage for more aggressive action such as refusing cooperation with the enforcement of EPA rules and regulations.


The House version of the bill only changes the effective date, implementing the law faster. At the time of this report, the House is requesting that the Senate accept this new date. If it does, it will go to the Governor for a signature. If not, the House and Senate will have to work out that difference first.

Either way, if sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin after the session adjourns, he will have fifteen days from the date of transmittal (excluding Sunday) to sign or veto the legislation.

Mike Maharrey

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