In regulation-wary West Virginia, chemical spill changes little

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Here in West Virginia, residents were still reeling from the chemical spill that left more than 300,000 people without usable water for days, many of them still frightened and unsure whether official assurances that they could once again drink tap water or bathe their children were true.

But in Washington on Wednesday, among friends at an event sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, West Virginia’s junior senator and former governor, Joe Manchin III, was preaching about an industry under siege by overzealous regulators.

“You feel like everyone’s turned against you,” he said sympathetically. He assured his audience that he would continue to fight back against the rules, quoting the state motto in Latin: “Montani semper liberi” — “Mountaineers are always free.”

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