Study: Black lung at historically high levels in Appalachia

September 15, 2014 by Dave Boucher

Coal miners in West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia are suffering from black lung at some of the highest rates in decades, according to new information released by federal health officials.

TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL A federal rule released earlier this year would reduce the amount of breathable coal dust allowed in mines.

TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL
A federal rule released earlier this year would reduce the amount of breathable coal dust allowed in mines.

The prevalence of “progressive massive fibrosis,” a debilitating and lethal form of black lung, is at it’s highest rates since the early 1970s for West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, according to new research. Experts with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a department under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarized their study in a letter published today in a scientific journal.

“Excessive inhalation of coal mine dust is the sole cause of (progressive massive fibrosis) in working coal miners, so this increase can only be the result of overexposures and/or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition,” the study states.

From 1974 to 2012 researchers tracked the prevalence of black lung in miners with 25 years or more of experience in underground mining. Miners who reported suffering from the disease dropped as low as a third of one percent in the late 1990s. In the last 15 years though the number of cases continue to increase, affecting 3.23 percent of veteran workers by 2012.

“Each of these cases is a tragedy and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease,” the letter to the journal states.

After years of debate federal officials in April revealed stricter standards for the amount of coal dust allowed in the air in mines. The rule calls for a 25 percent decrease in the amount of dust allowed in the air  over the next two years.

While federal labor and health officials, along with U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, championed the change, the National Mining Association and coal giant Murray Energy Corp. blasted the rule as a “drastic” attack on the industry.

West Virginia received about $1.2 million in federal funding for state-run black lung clinics earlier this year, compared to $1.4 million last year. The state’s 18 clinics served about 8,500 coal miners last year, and state health officials believe that number could increase this year.

This is a developing story. Check www.dailymailwv.com throughout the day as more information becomes available.

 

DEP rule significantly weakens tank inspections for some tanks

September 9, 2014 by Dave Boucher

State environmental regulators will allow pretty much anyone to inspect the majority of aboveground storage tanks covered by a law created after the massive chemical leak and water contamination earlier this year, according to a new rule released today.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman, committee attorney Robert Williams and Delegate Barbara Fleischuaer, D-Monongalia, talk Sunday evening during a marathon committee meeting.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman, House Judiciary Committee attorney Robert Williams and Delegate Barbara Fleischuaer, D-Monongalia, talk about Senate Bill 373 during a marathon committee meeting earlier this year.

They must abide by “industry standards” and a checklist provided by the state, but there is no auditing or impartial process in place that actually ensures that’s happening.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Monday it would create an “interpretive rule” that would ease the inspection burden that oil, natural gas and other industries complained lawmakers created by issuing Senate Bill 373.

The rule creates a three-tiered system for tanks. Tanks that fall in “Level 1″ must be inspected by a registered professional engineer. Here’s the definition for “Level 1″ tanks, where “AST” means “aboveground storage tank”:

Level 1 AST” means an AST that is determined by the Secretary to have the potential for high risk of harm to public health or the environment due to its contents, size or location, except for ASTs containing potable water, filtered surface water, demineralized water, noncontact cooling water or water stored for fire or emergency purposes, food or food-grade materials, or hazardous waste tanks subject to regulation under (state law).”

Any tanks that’s located in a “zone of critical concern” (as defined in the bill), that contains “hazardous” materials, a tank that can hold 50,000 gallons or more and any other tank the head of DEP deems relevant also fall under the “Level 1″ category.

(Just to emphasize the last part of the “Level 1″ definition, it doesn’t include tanks that hold hazardous waste. They’re considered “Level 3″ tanks, the lowest level in this system, because they are already subject to a different set of regulatory requirements.)

The rule provides drastically different inspection requirements for tanks in the second two levels. The law outlines who can conduct an inspection, but also says it can be done by “a person holding certification under another program approved by the secretary.”

According to the interpretive rule, that really does mean anyone for the initial inspection of tanks in levels 2 and 3. The rule states professional engineers can inspect the tanks, but inspections can also be done by “the owner or operator of the AST; or by any person designated by the owner or operator of the AST.”

If the owner or his designee does the inspection, then only the owner of the tanks needs to certify the inspection, according to the rule.

The rule does state all inspections for all tanks “shall be conducted in accordance with the industry standard appropriate to the tank or tank facility” and should conform to a checklist included in the rule. The checklist includes eight items, with several subsections that could be included in the inspection.

However, the rule doesn’t include anyway for the DEP to verify the inspection actually happened. That includes inspections conducted by the registered professional engineers as well, but these inspectors are subject to well-defined training standards that a tank owner or his friend conducting the inspection may not meet.

All inspections still need to be completed–and proof of inspections submitted to the state–by Jan. 1, 2015.

The rule also allows people who own tanks that fall in levels 2 and 3 to submit information they are already supposed to have pertaining to groundwater and site protection, instead of the Spill Prevention Resource Plan outlined in the new law. “Level 1″ tank owners still need to submit the plan. All spill prevention paperwork is still due Dec. 3.

Definitions for each tank level, more information about inspections and the prevention plans is available in the rule.

In a statement this morning, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin commended the rule:

The proposed rule released today provides guidance to owners and operators of aboveground storage tanks for complying with two key parts of Senate Bill 373: inspection and certification of tanks, and spill prevention response plans. It protects the health and safety of all West Virginians, and our environment, from the risks of leaks of hazardous materials from above ground storage tanks.

All affected aboveground storage tanks still must be registered by October 1, 2014. This rule establishes a risk assessment approach to inspecting aboveground storage tanks in West Virginia and requires all aboveground tanks located within zones of critical concern, wellhead protection areas or groundwater intake areas to be professionally inspected and certified by the January 1, 2015, deadline.

Interpretive rules don’t need legislative approval, unlike emergency or traditional administrative rules. They essentially show how an agency will interpret the law.

The rule will be out for public comment for 30 days and a public hearing will be held on Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the DEP’s headquarters in Kanawha City, according to a DEP news release.

This is a developing story. Check back in throughout the day as more information becomes available.

 

 

Quiz: Are you coal enough?

September 3, 2014 by Dave Boucher

Both the Democrat and Republican congressional candidates for the seat representing West Virginia’s coalfields released new campaign ads Tuesday that, again, tout coal.

The new ads for Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. and Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins (the National Republican Congressional Committee created the Jenkins ad) each use coal miners from small towns in southern West Virginia to blast their opponents while highlighting their own candidate’s promise to support coal.

Although likely voters recently polled didn’t list the future of coal as a top issue affecting their votes, political campaigns throughout the state continue to hammer away with coal-centric ads.

With many similar ads likely on the horizon for West Virginia TV viewers, we thought the campaigns wanted to know the answer to the (hypothetical and obviously satirical) question: Are YOU coal enough?

You can find out by taking the Daily Mail’s quick and easy “Are you coal enough?” quiz. It’s only 4 questions, based entirely off of statements made in the latest ads released in the 3rd Congressional District.

See how you fare!

State: GOP must file suit in 35th District dispute

September 2, 2014 by Dave Boucher

Local Republicans need to actually file a lawsuit they’ve threatened to really get the ball rolling in the case to replace Delegate Suzette Raines on the ballot , state elections officials determined today.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant

The State Election Commission voted today to accept the notice of intent to sue from the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee and pledged to act “expeditiously” if the lawsuit is ever filed. The commission can’t “waive” the 30-day heads up required by law for any group planning to sue a state entity, said Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

“We don’t have the authorioty to do that, only the Supreme Court can do it,” Tennant said this afternoon.

Raines announced in August she would not seek re-election to her seat in the House of Delegates representing the 35th District. (She noted personal issues, but Democrats also filed legal action accusing her of breaking elections law). The Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee asked the election commission to allow them to pick a replacement for Raines on the ballot. Deciding Raines’ reasons didn’t amount to “extenuating personal circumstances” as outlined in state law the commission opted against letting the GOP pick a replacement.

The local GOP still chose Marie Sprouse-McDavid–who came in 5th out of six candidates in the GOP primary for the 35th District–as its favored candidate to replace Raines. Sprouse-McDavid filed to run as a candidate, but the Secretary of State’s office cited the recent election commission decision in rejecting to accept the candidacy.

The GOP sent the Secretary of State a notice Aug. 22 that it planned to sue. State law says anyone planning to sue the state needs to give the particular agency a 30-day notice of intent to file a lawsuit. The GOP asked the Secretary of State to “waive” that requirement, but the office doesn’t have the authority to do that, according to a Aug. 26 letter from the office’s attorneys.

“We recognize the desirability and practical necessity of reaching a swift resolution of these claims, as they impact an upcoming election that is only 70 days away,” writes Katherine A. Schultz and Jennifer S. Greenlief, attorneys with the Office of the state Attorney General.

“While our clients share your clients’ interest in expedited review, we must respect the law while remaining mindful that parties cannot confer jurisdiction on the court.”

Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, cited the reason death of her mother and the end of a long romantic relationship as to why she cannot run for re-election. Republicans are filing legal action to replace her on the ballot.

Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, cited the reason death of her mother and the end of a long romantic relationship as to why she cannot run for re-election. Republicans are filing legal action to replace her on the ballot.

Essentially, the lack of a lawsuit puts the election commission in a “holding pattern,” Tennant said. The commission will move to ask for a quick resolution to a case, but it can’t do so unless a case is actually filed.

All ballots need to be printed by Sept. 19, in order to get the ballots to absentee or military voters, Tennant said. Right now the applicable ballots would offer the four names of the Democrats in the 35th District, names for three Republicans and “no candidate” instead of Raines or Sprouse-McDavid.

Republicans control three of the four seats in the 35th District. Democrats were optimistic they could win at least two seats before Raines withdrew.

The general election is Nov. 4.

Live coverage: Capito-Tennant forum at WV Business Summit

August 28, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

Democrat Natalie Tennant and Republican Shelley Moore Capito are due to attend a U.S. Senate candidate forum.
The forum is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs as part of the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.
Third-party candidates won’t be involved.
The forum will be streamed online at www.wvchamber.com .
Tennant and Capito are vying for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Capito is a seven-term congresswoman and Tennant is West Virginia’s secretary of state.
Tennant and Capito will also debate Oct. 7 in Charleston. The West Virginia Press Association, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and AARP are organizing that debate.

Live Blog Capito-Tennant forum at WV Business Summit

Mooney releases first ad

August 26, 2014 by Dave Boucher

GOP nominee Alex Mooney touts his ability to stop the “war on coal” and repeal “Obamacare” in his first television advertisement of the general election cycle, released today.

Alex Mooney, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District, released his first TV ad today.

Alex Mooney, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District, released his first TV ad today.

The 30-second spot, entitled “Working for West Virginia,” is airing in the Charleston TV market, said campaign spokesman Nick Clemons. He wouldn’t give an exact amount for the size of the ad buy, but said it was “just under six figures.”

Mooney and Democrat Nick Casey are vying to succeed Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., as representative for the 2nd Congressional District. Capito is leaving the seat in a bid for the U.S. Senate.

The spot shows five different people heralding Mooney’s work and vision (the campaign made sure to point out each person lives in West Virginia.) They say Mooney has a “record of standing up to” President Barack Obama and a “perfect record” voting for lower government spending or against tax increases while serving as a state senator.

“I will fight for West Virginia jobs and values in Congress,” Mooney said, in a statement announcing the new ad.

“No one will fight harder to end Obama’s War On Coal, repeal Obamacare, and protect our values which are being trampled on by President Obama and his liberal allies in Congress.”

(Republicans, who have the majority in the U.S. House, have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times. It’s never gone anywhere in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and would be vetoed by Obama even if a repeal measure did make it out of Congress.)

The people in the ad don’t point out Mooney’s votes and service as a senator took place in Maryland. Mooney, who also served as the Maryland GOP party chairman, moved to the Eastern Panhandle in 2013 and announced his candidacy shortly thereafter.

His residency is a consistent attacking point for Democrats, and Casey bashed him this morning for not mentioning the move in the ad. Casey’s campaign manager Derek Scarbro says the ad is “misleading.”

“Mooney introduces himself to voters but conveniently forgot to mention that he just moved here from Maryland last year to run for Congress,” Scarbro said in a campaign statement.

“Mooney calls himself a ‘senator’ and talks about his legislative experience in his new ad just like he did during the primary, but he never says that he was a State Senator in Maryland.”

The Casey camp recently released it’s own ad, called “Cheap,” championing the argument Casey is fiscally responsibile. The Mooney campaign said the ad was disingenuous, pointing to Casey’s support of a massive federal stimulus package while Casey served as chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party.

Mooney’s campaign recently released a poll (from a Republican pollster) that said the GOP nominee leads Casey by 12 percentage points. The Casey campaign said they don’t think the poll is credible.

The general election is Nov. 4.

Senate candidates to commemorate Women’s Equality Day

August 25, 2014 by Whitney Burdette

It’s been 94 years since women were granted the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. And 2014 will be the year West Virginia elects its first female senator.
Both Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Natalie Tennant are commemorating the anniversary. Capito is meeting with members of the Women with Shelley coalition tomorrow in Wheeling. Tennant, meanwhile will be in the Eastern Panhandle where she will rally with women, encouraging them to vote in November’s general election. Afterward, she’ll take part in a phone banking event with supporters. Helen Holt, West Virginia’s first female secretary of state, will participate in the events. Holt, 101, is a Republican but has endorsed Tennant in the race.
Both campaigns have gone back and forth, each charging the other with supporting policies that could have a negative affect on West Virginia women. According to the Tennant campaign, Capito has voted against equal pay legislation five times, including the heralded Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that passed in 2009 and was eventually signed into law. However, Capito maintains she didn’t vote for such legislation because equal pay has been a law since the 1960s and passing new legislation is redundant.
“This is yet another instance of Natalie Tennant desperately trying to distort Shelley’s positions in order to distract from her own record of strongly supporting Obama, who pays female White House staffers less than 87 cents for every dollar paid to men, and whose policies are bad for women, families and jobs,” said Capito spokeswoman Amy Graham.
Tennant’s spokeswoman Jenny Donohue said Capito is running against Tennant, not Obama and his policies.
“While taxpayers are paying Congresswoman Capito $200,000 a year in Washington, West Virginia women are struggling to buy groceries and pay daycare bills,” she said. “Those women deserve honest answers about the choice they have this election. Congresswoman Capito is running against Natalie Tennant, not President Obama, and it is Congresswoman Capito who voted five times against equal pay for West Virginia women — no one else.”
Tennant’s salary is listed at $95,000 a year. Graham said though her salary is smaller, it’s equally unfair for Tennant to campaign for higher office while women struggle.
“Natale Tennant’s perpetual campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime is an insult to all the women and families in this state who are working hard to make ends meet,” Graham said.
Tennant is in her second term as secretary of state, but ran for governor in the 2011 special gubernatorial election. Capito is in her seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the first time she has sought election for other office since she was first elected to Congress in 2000.
The Tennant campaign isn’t the only group to target Capito’s voting record on women’s issues. The AFL-CIO is joining with other organizations for a Women’s Equality Day rally on Tuesday ” to celebrate
Women’s Equality Day and bring attention to conflicting statements from Representative Capito,” according to a news release. The rally will begin at 5:30 at 4815 MacCorkle Avenue in Kanawha City, outside Capito’s Charleston field office.

GOP to file legal action in Raines race

August 25, 2014 by Dave Boucher

The West Virginia Republican Party plans to ask the Supreme Court to overrule the Secretary of State and allow Marie Sprouse-McDavid onto the ballot this fall.

Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, cited the reason death of her mother and the end of a long romantic relationship as to why she cannot run for re-election. Republicans are filing legal action to replace her on the ballot.

Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, cited the reason death of her mother and the end of a long romantic relationship as to why she cannot run for re-election. Republicans are filing legal action to replace her on the ballot.

The party notified the Secretary of State, West Virginia Attorney General and Robert Rupp, chairman of the State Election Commission, it plans to file legal action. GOP state party chairman Conrad Lucas had predicted legal action was possible. He called for quick action from the state in a statement:

“It is very clear that the will of the people is to have a full slate of candidates on the November ballot. It is also clear that Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and the State Election Commission did not apply well established precedent and objective case law regarding this matter. The will of the people and established law in West Virginia should not be ignored. Any action other than granting the people of the 35th District the right to choose their own representatives thwarts the very principles on which our nation was founded.”

A 30-day notice is required for any person or group that plans to file a lawsuit against a state agency. The GOP is asking the agencies to waive that time period due to the approaching election.

The GOP is seeking a “writ of mandamus” from the state Supreme Court. It’s essentially an order from the high court to force the Secretary of State to allow Sprouse-McDavid on the ballot. Sprouse-McDavid was recently chosen as the Kanawha County GOP’s favored candidate to replace Delegate Suzette Raines, who withdrew from the racing noting personal issues and facing legal challenges.

The GOP filing cites the case of Samuel Cravotta, who successfully petitioned the court to have his name on the ballot as a GOP challenger to then-Rep. Bob Wise in 1992. I explain  more of that case here.

This is a developing story. Look for more information as it becomes available.

 

CDC: No WV health officials specifically trained for chemical disaster

August 19, 2014 by Dave Boucher

None of West Virginia’s state public health officials were trained to respond to a chemical disaster at the time of the recent massive chemical leak and water contamination, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

West Virginia doesn't have any state health officials specifically trained in responding to chemical disasters like the one that happened at Freedom Industries in January, according to a new federal report.

West Virginia doesn’t have any state health officials specifically trained in responding to chemical disasters like the one that happened at Freedom Industries in January, according to a new federal report.

“Currently, there are no epidemiologists in positions that respond to acute chemical or radiological releases, or specifically tasked with natural disaster response,” the report states.

“There also are no programs to enhance occupational safety and health of responders.”

The report comes as an additional review of the state’s response to the chemical leak earlier this year, where thousands of gallons of MCHM and other chemicals leaked into the Elk River and contaminated drinking water for roughly 300,000 people. Although the state discovered the leak Jan. 9, federal investigators believe it’s likely as many as two tanks were leaking before that day.

The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has some epidemiologists, public health officials who study patterns and causes of disease and injury to people, according to the U.S. Bureau for Labor statistics. The CDC determined none of those epidemiologists were specifically trained to deal with chemical or natural disasters.

Instead, epidemiologists who normally focus on infectious diseases led the epidemiological efforts for the state during the leak and contamination response, the report states.

Those epidemiologists didn’t get training in “assessment to chemical exposure” until late March of this year, months after they started leading the health response to the chemical leak.

“DHHR may want to consider additional resources such as hiring an epidemiologist who would lead the response for environmental disasters and acute environmental incidents,” the report states.

The CDC also recommended more DHHR planning for natural disasters like calamitous winter weather or a derecho and man-made disasters like chemical spills or bridge collapses. West Virginia should team with other states to get the proper training and access to information necessary to better respond to similar disasters in the future, the report suggests.

The DHHR’s head of epidemiology said the state is considering the CDC’s recommendation, but state health officials believe the CDC’s report “confirms” the state is taking steps necessary to continue protecting citizens in the event of a disaster.

“Over the last six months, the Bureau for Public health has been exploring additional training opportunities that will further strengthen the response preparedness of our agency’s epidemiologists during times of disaster,” said Dr. Loretta Haddy, state epidemiologist.

Multiple state agencies and the water company were consistently criticized for their response to the leak. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said it was a personal decision whether families would believe their tap water was safe. Nearly a month after the leak state public health officer Dr. Letitia Tierney compared a decision to drink tap water and jumping off a bridge with a parachute in arguing people have different definitions of “safe.”

The CDC has als0 faced criticism. A week after the leak the head of the CDC said it would be a good idea for pregnant women not to drink water that contained any amount of the chemical, but supplied little details as to why the announced was delayed.

The federal agency was also slow in releasing information about how it determined the “screening level” for how much chemically tainted water could be safely consumed. It eventually announced the 1 part per million “screening level was a “short term” guide, only to be used for consumption over a 14-day period. The screening level also only considered exposure through consumption of tainted water, not touching such water with the skin or inhaling contaminated vapor.

Hundreds of people reported rashes, burning skin and other negative health affects after state and federal officials announced water was safe to use once people flushed their plumbing systems. Eventually, the CDC and state health department acknowledged the symptoms could be a direct result of chemically tainted water in homes before and after their residents flushed their plumbing.

Since then Tomblin has said he wouldn’t change anything about the state’s response to the leak. A state “after action review” looking into it’s response to the leak has not yet been released.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

Group makes big ad buy in third district

August 15, 2014 by Whitney Burdette

A group “dedicated to holding Washington’s feet to the fire on the practical issues” has made a substantial ad buy in West Virginia’s third congressional district.
Grassroots GPS announced a $335,000 ad buy in the Charleston, Beckley/Bluefield and Roanoke markets. The ad, titled “Coal” takes Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall to task for his support of President Barack Obama and the “war on coal.”
The ad makes note of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon emissions rule that Republicans and Democrats alike decry as harmful to West Virginia’s economy.
“Congressman Nick Rahall endorsed Obama and voted for a carbon tax that could devastate West Virginia jobs, drive up our energy bills and cripple our coal industry,” the ad states.
In 2013, Rahall voted for the Progressive Caucus Budget, which did include a $25 per ton tax on carbon dioxide. That measure failed in the House by a 84-327 vote.
The ad makes reference to HR 4850, a bill that would amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, and urges voters to contact Rahall’s office and ask him to support the bill. However, Rahall is listed as a cosponsor on a similar bill, HR 4808, along with Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito. Rahall is the only Democratic cosponsor of that bill, introduced in June. HR 4850 was introduced a few days later and has one cosponsor.
“€œI am proud to wake up every day and fight with all of my heart for West Virginia’s coal miners, coal jobs and our very way of life– and these shady out-of-state billionaires must be from outer space if they think they can tell us West Virginians one thing about the values that make our state great,” Rahall said. “The truth is these are Evan Jenkins’ puppet masters at it again, and they’re willing to say and do anything to prop him up because they know Jenkins will push their agenda in Washington instead of looking out for West Virginia.”
The Grassroots GPS ad will air on cable and broadcast through August 28. It does not endorse or mention Rahall’s Republican challenger, state Sen. Evan Jenkins.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, announced two new endorsements in the November election.
The National Association of Women Business Owners and HuntPAC have come out in support of Capito.
“Congresswoman Capito’s record shows she understands the important role entrepreneurs play in our economy,” said Darla Beggs, national board chair of NAWBO. “We are proud to lend our endorsement to Congresswoman Capito and look forward to seeing her continue her efforts on behalf of small business owners in the U.S. Senate.”
HuntPAC is the bipartisan political action committee of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. The committee endorsed Natalie Tennant, Capito’s Democratic challenger, for secretary of state in 2012.
Capito also is endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association, which also endorsed Tennant in previous elections, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She said the endorsements show she stands for small business.
“I am extremely grateful for the endorsements of these organizations, which share my commitment to growing and protecting jobs and small businesses,” Capito said. “Standing up for West Virginia starts with fighting President Obama’s job-killing policies and working to create an environment where our economy, our small businesses and our people can thrive.”
But Tennant’s campaign argues Capito has a record of working against small businesses, while Tennant as secretary of state has worked to help entrepreneurs by cutting fees and making it easier for them to file necessary paperwork on time.
“Congresswoman Capito has a proven record of padding the pockets of Wall Street bankers at small businesses’ expense,” said Tennant campaign spokeswoman Jenny Donohue. “In fact, while Natalie Tennant was cutting fees for West Virginia businesses, Congresswoman Capito was leading the charge to increase the fees businesses are forced to pay big credit card companies.”
Capito called for the delay of an amendment aimed to cap credit card swipe fees in 2011. Members of the Senate voted to amended Dodd-Frank legislation and cap the amount of swipe fees, or transaction fees, banks and credit card companies may charge retailers. Capito and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., introduced a bipartisan bill in the House to delay that legislation and call for a one-year study on how the changes would affect business.