Coal Tattoo

byrdfull.jpgLast week, all three of West Virginia’s House members voted against the landmark bill to begin dealing with global warming.

It’s early in the Senate’s consideration of the legislation, and there’s much work there to do.

But we learned today that Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., opposes the bill in its current form. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said only that he has “serious concerns” about the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Byrd’s office released this statement:

I cannot support the House bill in its present form.

I continue to believe that clean coal can be a “green” energy.   Those of us who understand coal’s great potential in our quest for energy independence must continue to work diligently in shaping a climate bill that will ensure access to affordable energy for West Virginians. 

I remain bullish about the future of coal, and am so very proud of the miners who labor and toil in the coalfields of West Virginia.

rockychange.jpgAnd Rockefeller’s office issued this statement:

Senator Rockefeller followed the process in the House on the climate change legislation very closely, and he continues to have serious concerns about the House bill. The Senate process is in the beginning stages, and Senator Rockefeller will continue working with his colleagues to make sure West Virginia’s interests are represented.

It will be interesting to watch things develop, and see if Byrd and Rockefeller move on this at all — especially since the United Mine Workers union said last week that, under the current bill “the future of coal will be intact.”

As Kate Sheppard explains over at Grist:

It takes 60 votes to end debate on legislation in the Senate; Democrats hold 59 seats in the Senate (60 if you count Al Franken, of course). But a number of Midwestern and Southern Democrats have expressed concerns about passing the legislation, and few observers expect more than two or three GOP lawmakers to vote for a climate bill.

As I wrote earlier this year:

Last year, another major piece of climate legislation, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, went down in the Senate.  Byrd had earlier voted with a small minority who opposed ending debate and moving forward with a vote on that bill. He was the only Democrat to do so.  Byrd was not present (he was hospitalized at the time) when the Senate voted 48-36 to essentially kill that same bill.