By Steve Milloy
January 26, 2012, Charleston Daily Mail
What has Joe Manchin done for West Virginia coal lately? That’s a question West Virginians ought to be asking themselves now that John Raese has announced a challenge for Manchin’s Senate seat.
Manchin earned his Senate seat with the pivotal, if not legendary campaign ad in which he put a rifle shot through the cap-and-trade bill in 2010.
But since then, Sen. Joe has been all show and no go when it comes to defending West Virginia’s cash cow.
Manchin has cast the odd ballot for coal the couple of times it’s come up — like the April 2011 McConnell Amendment to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and the November 2011 Sen. Rand Paul-led effort to block the EPA’s anti-coal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
Outside these no-brainer votes — over which he broke no China — what has Manchin accomplished for West Virginia’s coal industry?
In December, the Obama administration finalized its so-called Utility Mercury Air Toxics Standard rule, which needlessly cracks down on coal-fired power plant emissions.
Along with the cross-state air pollution rule, the mercury standard is part of a whole suite of Obama-era regulations known as the EPA “train wreck” because of their inevitable effect of forcing electric utilities to stop burning coal, especially less high-sulfur Appalachian coal.
The Obama EPA is not West Virginia coal’s only problem.
The Obama Interior Department is working on a rule that will basically end longwall mining. Known as the Stream Buffer Zone rule, the Obama effort directly threatens thousands of longwall mining jobs and a billion dollars worth of economic benefit to West Virginia.
Then there’s the Army Corps of Engineers.
Not only has the Obama administration allowed its anti-coal EPA to usurp effective control over the Corps’ Clean Water Act permitting process, the Corps has been forced into the process of formulating new regulations that will make the permitting process unworkable for the coal industry.
And with no permits, there will be no mining.
Finally, the time is coming for the Obama EPA’s greenhouse gas emission rules — the regulatory version of cap-and-trade.
The Obama EPA has announced that the proposed rules will be issued soon.
Regardless of what is proposed, rest assured that they will be so anti-coal when finalized that the Obama administration dare not issue them until after the presidential election.
While all this anti-coal activity is roiling the industry, the candidate who boldly blew a hole in cap-and-trade has become a shrinking violet amid these mortal threats to West Virginia coal.
Manchin has plenty of leverage in 2012 that he could employ for coal.
Control of the Senate will be up for grabs this November and Democrats cannot afford to throw away Manchin’s seat.
That should at least get Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attention if not that of the president, who was been shielded from much political unpleasantness in 2011 by virtue of a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Manchin should demand an immediate end to the Obama administration’s war against West Virginia coal.
If Manchin can’t make this happen, then he may as well be replaced by a Republican to whom the next president might actually listen.
Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”