Coal Tattoo

Capito, climate and coal

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced today that she’s been named to a key House committee that will play a big role in energy policy and in congressional debates over global warming.

In a press release, West Virginia Republican said she will “bring a coal state perspective” to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

“Our energy future should be at the forefront of the national discussion, and I’m excited to bring a West Virginia voice to those issues as a member of this committee,” Capito said. “From clean coal to wind energy and other alternative technology, our state has an important role to play.”

This particular committee was set up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early 2007 “to add urgency and resources to the commitment of this Congress to address the challenges of America’s oil dependence and the threat of global warming” according to the committee Web site

Last year, Capito flunked the League of Conservation Voters annual scorecard of congressional votes on environmental issues. As I wrote when the scorecard was published:

Capito received poor marks in part for her votes with the GOP minority against incentives for wind, solar, plug-in vehicles and other renewable energies. She also voted in favor of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The LCV also singled out Capito for proposing an amendment to eliminate mandatory energy-efficiency standards for new federal housing projects. Capito’s amendment would have, according to LCV:

Weakened these standards by making them voluntary, deleted the definition of specific green criteria and goals, and allowed the administration to choose any private industry-backed standard for voluntary compliance, regardless of any positive health or environmental benefit.

The mining industry, by the way, is among Capito’s top financial supporters, having contributed more than $290,000 to her campaigns over the years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In her statement today, Capito said, “The President has pledged to make energy a top priority and this committee stands to be integral in those conversations. I’m honored to be named to this new post, and I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues.”

The ranking Republican on the panel, Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, said, “I’m excited to welcome Shelley Moore Capito to the committee. She hails from a coal state, understands the need for common-sense energy solutions and will bring a key perspective to our discussions.”

I asked Jonathan Coffin, Capito’s media spokesman, exactly what Capito thinks should be done about climate change, and this is what he told me:

She’s not on any specific bill as of now. But I’d say this committee gives her an opportunity to weigh in on this debate with a West Virginia frame of mind. The President has made clear that this is something he wants to focus on and she wants to make sure those discussions account for a coal-state perspective.

We need cleaner energy, more energy efficient technology and our portfolio should include cleaner ways to burn coal alongside efforts to bring other alternative technologies up to speed.

The committee will be a great place to delve deeper into these issues and work with her colleagues to be sure Congress considers a range of perspectives.