Coal Tattoo

What’s Capito’s view on global warming?


That’s the question I keep coming back to as I re-read the Daily Mail’s front-page coverage of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s dog-and-pony show visit to her friend Andrew Jordon’s mountaintop removal mine here in West Virignia.

Capito’s tour of Pritchard Mining’s Four-Mile Mine was part of a Republican campaign to turn the American people against legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions. As I wrote previously, Capito and others from the GOP are misusing the findings of an MIT professor to make the costs to an average household seem 10 times bigger than they might really be.

After previously swallowing the bogus Republican numbers, the Daily Mail this time at least pointed out that the MIT professor in question has called out the GOP for misleading the public. But the DM also continued to let Capito throw around some wild figures:

Capito said she’s seen different figures that show cap-and-trade hiking consumers’ electric bills by between $1,000 and $3,000 a year. She said those sorts of details ought to be in the bill.

Republicans have cited research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that says the cap-and-trade proposal could cost the average household about $3,128 a year. The professor who authored the study, however, says Republicans are misrepresenting his findings and that the $3,000-plus figure is about 10 times overboard.

Of course, you also didn’t read in that story that Jordon and his wife, Kanawha County School Board member Becky Jordon, have contributed at least $16,850 to Capito’s campaigns in the last three election cycles. Mining contributors have given Capito nearly $300,000 in campaign funds over her career. Electric utilities chipped in another $100,000.

But I digress …

Back in early February, Capito was named to the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.  In fact, the announcement was among my first blog posts after starting Coal Tattoo.

At the time, Capito said the appointment would allow her to bring “a coal state perspective” to the committee’s work on energy and climate change:

“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,” said Capito. “From clean coal, to wind energy and other alternative technology, our state has an important role to play.”“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.”

Back then, I asked Capito’s spokesman, Jon Coffin, what his boss thought should be done about global warming, and which — if any — of the various climate change bills floating around Congress she tended to support. He told me then:

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.

Well, it’s been a couple of months. And talk about what needs to be done about global warming if flying around Washington, D.C. And West Virginians still don’t know where Capito — who has a key spot at the table on this House committee — stands on that.

Sure, we know that she wants to protect jobs and our state’s coal industry. But does her position end there? Does Rep. Capito believe global warming is happening? Does she admit that coal emissions are contributing to it? If so, what specifically does she think we should do?

From her public statements so far, it’s hard to tell … take a look at this video, when she appeared with Illinois Congressman John Shimkus to promote their attack on the cap-and-trade legislation:

In case you missed it, this is her key point there:

“While we all march toward the goal of cleaner air, of a cleaner environment, we have to be realistic here.”

That sounds good, and most of the mainstream media in coal country will happily just print it. But Coal Tattoo thinks West Virginians, especially those in Capito’s district, deserve better.

I’ve asked to interview Capito about global warming (and mountaintop removal, too)…so stay tuned…