Intrastate Coal and Use Act

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The Intrastate Coal and Use Act is a bill to "strip the EPA of its right to review permits for intrastate coal operations."[1] The bill rests on the notion that under the Commerce Clause, the federal government can only regulate interstate commerce, allowing individual states to regulate commerce that remains within the state. The bill, which is quite likely unconstitutional, was first introduced in West Virginia in 2011.

In 2012, the American Legislative Exchange Council met to discuss creating a "model bill" of the Intrastate Coal and Use Act, which its members would attempt to pass in their respective states.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Intrastate Coal and Use Bills in States

West Virginia

In December 2010, newly elected Republican Delegate Gary G. Howell began touting a bill to bypass the EPA regulatory process that governs coal mining permits.[2] Howell is a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force[3] Under his bill, the "Intrastate Coal and Use Act," the state government would have the authority to permit coal mining, so long as the coal was sold within the state.[1] The West Virginia Coal Association threw its support behind the bill almost immediately.[4]

In the two previous years, "nearly 80 surface mining permits were reviewed by the EPA, but only nine were approved." Howell called the EPA regulatory process "soft tyranny" and aimed to override it with his bill.[1] He projected the bill would directly create 500-1000 jobs in West Virginia and claimed it is constitutional because the federal government only has the authority to regulate interstate - not intrastate - commerce.

Bill co-sponsors included Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh; Delegate Ray Canterbury, R-Greenbrier; Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell; Delegate Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell; Delegate John N. Ellem, R-Wood; Delegate Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Walter E. Duke, R-Berkeley, Finance Chair Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; Steven Kominar, D-Mingo, and Rupert Phillips Jr., D-Lincoln.[1] Like Howell, Del. Carol Miller (R-15) is also on ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.[5]

Howell introduced the bill shortly after taking office in 2011. Once introduced, the bill was referred to the Energy, Industry and Labor committee where it stalled. The committee leadership, Delegates Larry W. Barker and Stan Shaver, both Democrats, said they thought the bill was "probably unconstitutional." Barker thought that "it would be hard to prove that business was not done outside the state."[6]

After Howell's bill, HB 2554, stalled, a nearly identical bill (HB 2972) was introduced on February 1, 2011 by Democrats - without any Republican sponsors. Presumably, the new bill would have a better chance of passage in the Democratic led House than an identical bill with Republican sponsors.[6][7] February 9, 2011, Republican Senator Dave Sypolt introduced the bill into the state's Senate.[8]

As of 2011, West Virginia had 273 coal mines producing 134,662,000 short tons of coal, making it the second largest coal producing state in the nation (Wyoming was first).[9]


On February 9, 2011, Kentucky Representatives Jim Gooch (D), Ben Waide (R), and Addia Wuchner (R) introduced the Intrastate Coal and Use Act in their state.[10] Kentucky was the nation's third largest producer of coal in 2011.[9] All three bill sponsors are members of ALEC.[11][12][13]

ALEC's Coal and Energy Members and Sponsors

See a full list of ALEC's corporate members.

Resources and Articles

Sourcewatch resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Taylor Kuykendall, "Bill that would circumvent EPA coal permits to be introduced," The Register-Herald, January 17, 2011.
  2. Emily Newman, "Delegate proposes coal permit act," The Register-Herald, December 29, 2010.
  3. American Legislative Exchange Council, Natural Resources Task Force as of 6/30/2011, organizational task force directory, June 30, 2011, document obtained and released by Common Cause.
  4. Taylor Kuykendall, "Coal industry shows support for delegate’s regulatory shift," The Register-Herald, December 30, 2010.
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, Directory – Full Name and Address, Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Membership Directory, December 2010, obtained and released by Common Cause
  6. 6.0 6.1 Taylor Kuykendall, "Bill to create Intrastate Coal and Use Act gains new support," The Register-Herald, February 1, 2011.
  7. West Virginia House Bill 2972 of 2011: Intrastate Coal and Use Act
  8. West Virginia Senate Bill 468 of 2011: Intrastate Coal and Use Act
  9. 9.0 9.1 Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration.
  10. Kentucky HB 421: Intrastate Coal and Use Act, Accessed December 9, 2012.
  11. American Legislative Exchange Council, Directory – Full Name and Address, Education Task Force Membership Directory, August 2011, obtained and released by Common Cause
  12. American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force Members, organizational document, July 1, 2011, obtained and released by Common Cause on April 26, 2012
  13. Democrat, yet ALEC member, Rep. Jim Gooch kissing coal's ass at EPA Hearing 06052012, YouTube, Accessed December 9, 2012.

External resources

External Articles