Proposed EPA regulations raise job concerns

February 10, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Proposed EPA regulations raise job concerns

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County business representatives say regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would crush the job market, leaving many West Virginians unemployed.

The EPA said the regulations are designed to cut down on global warming, decrease ozone-causing emissions and reduce smog in northeastern states.

At one of 11 public meetings across the state this week, Martinsburg residents and business owners were given a chance to voice opinions on the issue Monday night.


Comments at the town meetings will be collected until March 9 and presented to lawmakers in Charleston, W.Va., and Washington, D.C.

The proposal: The District of Columbia and 22 states - including West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania - decrease emissions of nitrogen oxide, which causes ozone and is released by power plants, factories and motor vehicles.

West Virginia would be required to decrease emissions by 44 percent.

Max Burnham, manager of DuPont's Potomac River Works plant in Falling Waters, W.Va., said 113 people at that plant could lose their jobs if the EPA's proposal went into effect.

"It is important that industry play a leading role in protecting the environment," Burnham said.

"As business people, we're responsible for making those kinds of contributions. But we're also responsible to speak out when our business and scientific perspectives enable us to recognize policy initiatives that are misdirected, wasteful or just plain won't work," Burnham said.

The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce signed a resolution asking for dismissal of the proposal and asked the governor, in-dustry leaders and delegates to challenge the EPA.

Allegheny Power said six of 10 coal-fired plants are in West Virginia and if the proposal takes effect, customers can say goodbye to low electric bills.

Supporters say the environment and good health are too important to ignore.

Christina Lundberg, of Falling Waters, said global warming is becoming an important issue and she's very concerned.

"It seems to me the EPA standards set years ago have to be changed because the air is getting worse," Lundberg said. "Rather than see my state legislators use my tax dollars to fight this issue, I'd like to see them give tax credit to companies that comply."

Marian Buckner, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., said she understands jobs are important to Berkeley County, but so is health.

"I'm absolutely concerned about jobs, but I want to keep the air as clean as possible. It is of sufficient importance to warrant attention," Buckner said.

Joe Swope, conservation chairman of the Catoctin Group in Boonsboro, said he understands the concern over employment, but the EPA standard would likely create new jobs.

"It's a complex issue. I happen to actually agree with some of the businesses, but that doesn't mean we should stop what we're doing here," Swope said.

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