Boehner's response to West Virginia's chemical spill: "We have enough regulations"

"What the administration ought to be doing is their jobs," the House Speaker commented Tuesday

Published January 14, 2014 7:05PM (EST)

The leak of a toxic chemical from a West Virginia coal processing plant into the state's water system unleashed an onslaught of commentary calling for increased government regulation and industry oversight. As Randy Huffman, secretary of the state's Department of Environmental Protection, predicted in the spill's aftermath: “I think a lot of folks will be calling for legislation and rightly so."

“Somebody ought to be held accountable here," agreed House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. In his opinion, however, that somebody is the Obama administration.

"We have enough regulations on the books," Boehner commented at a press conference Tuesday. "What the administration ought to be doing is their jobs. Why was this plant not inspected since 1991?”

(The answer, Climate Progress notes, is that a loophole in West Virginia's regulations makes it so that inspections weren't required by law.)

“I am entirely confident that there are ample regulations already on the books to protect the health and safety of the American people,” Boehner continued. “What we try to do is look at those regulations that we think are cumbersome, are over-the-top and are costing our economy jobs. That’s what our focus continues to be.”

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) has already indicated that the state will, in fact, be looking to beef up its chemical oversight. "We need to do what we can to see that this kind of incident never happens again," he told CNN. "There's no excuse for it."

By Lindsay Abrams

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Coal Industry Deregulation House Speaker John Boehner West Virginia Chemical Spill