Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

West Virginians Push Back on Stricter EPA Air Standards

Jason Asbury wants to clear up a misunderstanding.

The vice president for geotechnical and field services at TERRADON Corporation—the largest woman-owned engineering business in West Virginia—knows that West Virginia’s leadership in the energy industry has created a negative stereotype about West Virginians and environmentalism. But he also knows that the reality is very different.

  • “There’s a misconception that we don’t care about the environment, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Asbury. “We’re some of the most outdoorsy people you’ll ever meet, and we care about nature, about the mountains, the waterways, the clean air—that’s why we live here. This is home for us, and we feel a duty to make sure that everything we do protects the environment.”

But as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a more restrictive standard for clean air, Asbury is also warning that the rule is unrealistic and ultimately harmful, and that it will cause painful repercussions in West Virginia and beyond.

A strict standard: The EPA rule under consideration, which would govern particles known as PM2.5, would impose additional tight regulations on manufacturers and others across the country. According to Asbury, those regulations would harm businesses without resulting in real benefits.

  • “It’s potentially overkill,” said Asbury. “Everybody in sectors from engineering to construction and manufacturing is doing all they can to ensure we have clean air—but we’re trying to balance having clean air with being profitable and having jobs and economic growth in our communities. Groups like ours are already working toward environmental goals, and this rule hinders that.”

A heavy burden: The EPA’s proposed rule would impose significant costs and delays for companies, Asbury continued.

  • “It’s more burdensome on the permitting and regulatory side to attempt to meet a standard that may or may not be attainable,” said Asbury. “That causes design overruns and more costly projects.”
  • “It causes us to miss deadlines and push projects back. If projects get canceled, we’re laying off staff. And if folks don’t want to go through this extra layer of regulation, then there’s a potential for bigger job losses in the community.”

A message to policymakers: Asbury wants policymakers to understand that these rules aren’t just about numbers on a spreadsheet; they have real human consequences.

  • “Have you ever tried to do what you’re asking others to do?” said Asbury. “Have you ever tried to run a project under these regulations? Have you ever had to tell people that they don’t have a job due to a project being killed because of regulations like this one? It’s easy to make these rules when you’re not responsible for signing the front of a check.”
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