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EPA announces 3 more hearings on Clean Power Plan repeal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced three additional hearings on its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan after facing pressure to do so from stakeholders on all sides of the issue.

In a Dec. 6 release, the agency announced new hearings for San Francisco, Gillette, Wyo. and Kansas City, Mo. No additional details on the dates or locations are available at this time. "Due to the overwhelming response to our West Virginia hearing, we are announcing additional opportunities for the public to voice their views to the agency," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

The EPA's decision to hold just one hearing Nov. 28-29 in Charleston, W.Va., on the controversial plan to repeal the carbon-cutting rule was panned by environmental and social justice groups, private citizens, state officials and others. New York even held an event of its own to collect public feedback to submit to the EPA.

West Virginia lawmakers and other officials lauded the EPA for choosing West Virginia as the host city, but even state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has led the charge against the Clean Power Plan, acknowledged in a Nov. 29 tweet that more hearings "certainly hurt no one."

"As a champion of killing the [Clean Power Plan], we must also ensure all voices are heard. This should be a much more transparent process for the American people than Obama put forth," Morrisey said.

U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., cheered the EPA for choosing his state for the next round of hearings. He said the decision "demonstrates the administration's commitment to hear directly from the people who would have been hurt most by this punishing regulation."

During the two-day hearing in Charleston, the EPA heard from a variety of stakeholders such as coal executives and industry groups, environmental and social justice groups, politicians, private citizens and others. Many urged the EPA not to repeal the Clean Power Plan but to strengthen it instead, while coal-country officials assailed the plan as overly burdensome.

The EPA is also accepting written comments on the proposal until Jan. 16, 2018, and said in a statement Nov. 29 that those written comments will be treated the same as those collected during a public hearing.