Byrd opposed to climate bill; Rockefeller has ‘concerns’

June 29, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

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.

14 Responses to “Byrd opposed to climate bill; Rockefeller has ‘concerns’”

  1. Nanette says:

    They want to make sure that West Virginia’s interests are represented or the coal industry’s interests are represented? There is a major difference there. Polls show that a majority of West Virginians oppose MTR, only the coal companies endorse it. Coal in general will be needed for quite a long time, but MTR is not needed for the long haul during a transition to a cleaner energy portfolio.

  2. Clem Guttata says:

    Sen. Byrd is doing West Virginians and the rest of the occupants of this planet a great disservice if he frames climate change legislation as solely being concerned with “energy independence” and “affordable energy.”

    Really, coal has nothing to do with either. We can only truly have energy independence with renewable sources of energy–the remaining coal reserves in W.Va. can be counted in fewer decades than Sen. Byrd has served to date in Congress. Furthermore, as the studies recently highlighted on this website show, we only have “affordable energy” today if you fail to count the full costs of ‘cheap’ coal.

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Don’t forget — the UMWA said this bill keeps the coal industry’ s future intact … so why won’t WV leaders support it?

  4. offroute says:

    These two senators and the UMW have a unique chance here to do something good for both Appalachia and the country. If Byrd and Rockefeller were to vote for this bill, and Cecil Roberts was to openly support them, this would be enormous. It’d be like Byrd’s speech about Iraq and how he messed up voting for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and wasn’t gonna do that again. A game changer!

    Cecil Roberts, i think, has shown some intellectual maturity over this issue of climate change — as opposed to say a decade ago. Byrd and Rockefeller not so much. So public pressure from the UMWA on this is the only way it’ll work. The potentially neat thing is that if these two senators were to vote for this bill and all that it entails, the swing voting potential from other democratic senators would be pretty big.

    But it looks like it’ll never happen. WV’s congressional delegation blew it entirely. (See Paul Krugman this morning for example.) And i don’t see any of them, or Rockefeller, or Byrd, really caring about any of this. They really don’t care.

    I say if the Democratic Party stands for anything today it’s gotta stand for at least slowing climate change (via cap & trade just like with So2 in 1990s), health care reform with a meaningful public option, and serious banking regulation. That is, and has, to be the platform and Rahall, Mollahan and our two senators oughta know that by now and jump on board.

  5. Well Ken welcome back.

    I could not access Coal Tattoe for a few days and was afraid the Gazette High Command had shut you down.

    Have you heard anything from Sen. Byrd’s task force he sent to southern WV.?

    As I understood they were supposed to be talking to victims of mtr and visiting some of the sites.

    Who are they talking to?

    What mtr sites have they visited, if any?

    Have they quietly withdrawn and beat a path back to DC?

  6. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Not sure what you’re talking about … Coal Tattoo hasn’t been offline except for a very, very short period one day last week — I forget which one — when we had some server problems.


  7. Oh, good.

    I could get the Gazette and everything but you.

    Maybe my computer or the operator.

    So have you heard if the task force is still around.

    The last reporting I saw on it was the announcement they were coming to get the facts.

  8. […] unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri.” Sen. Robert Byrd released a critical statement, “I cannot support the House bill in its present form. I continue to believe that clean coal […]

  9. Mary Lee Scalf says:

    I am thoroughly disgusted and very dissapointed at both our Senators, Byrd and Rockefeller’s stand against the climate bill now before congress. What are they thinking. Care they not about our state and its people and only for greedy coal companies? My future vote on these two who I have long admired and respected is waining and I probably won’t consider voting for either again. Hopefully future contenders for their seats will give consideration to the complete and final stoppage of MTR.

  10. Barbara Svedberg says:

    This is really breaking my heart. In my opinion the most important thing to support is our planet. It is absolutely clear that we are contributing to global warming and will have both coasts drowning if we do not do something major. I have been proud of Robert Byrd in the past and was glad that he is still able to serve. I only hope that he comes to his sences as soon as possible.

  11. Bob Kincaid says:

    One must genuinely ask: what does it take to make Senators Byrd and Rockefeller happy? The bill “in its current form,” as Senator Byrd’s typist puts it, contains upwards of SIXTY BILLION DOLLARS in corporate welfare for the coal industry in the form of CCS subsidies among other giveaways, if the numbers I’ve read are correct.

    How much more do these two men want for their coal industry constituents? How much constitutes “enough?” How much more must West Virginians be beggared before these two old men are happy?

    When Senator Byrd calls coal “green,” you know he’s jumped the carbon shark.

  12. […] Robert Byrd (D-WV) says that he cannot support the bill without greater recognition of CCS as a “green” […]

  13. […] Robert Byrd (D-WV) says that he cannot support the bill without greater recognition of CCS as a “green” […]

  14. […] staff sent out an official statement from the senator shortly after the House passed the legislation. “I cannot support the House […]

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