Who’s afraid of cap and trade?

July 17, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

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Massey Energy President Don Blankenship has been busying tweeting  his opposition to the cap-and-trade bill making its way through Congress … a few samples of his wisdom:

Is Cap & Trade “environmental law”? Anti-American worker? Tax law? Scam? Whatever it is it will not help environment in any manner.

Tom Paine said–A habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it the superficial appearance of being right. Global Warming is today’s “thing”

Cap&Trade is an assault on American workers, supported by the fed gov’t.

Fair enough. We know that Blankenship doesn’t believe in global warming, and thinks the climate change bill is the worst thing since … well, since I don’t know what. But it’s also interesting to take a look at how some of Blankenship’s political associates are playing roles in this spontaneous citizen uprising against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

thomas.JPGFirst, there’s Greg Thomas, who headed up Blankenship’s political team when the coal executive spent several million dollars of his personal money to put  Brent Benjamin on the state Supreme Court. Of course, the court was at the time gearing up to hear an appeal in a major verdict against Massey, and the U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled that Blankenship’s campaign expenditures should have led Benjamin to recuse himself from that case.

As Larry Messina previously reported on Lincoln Walks at Midnight, Thomas was among a few people who turned out for a rally in Beckley against the cap-and-trade bill.  Mannix Porterfield dutifully wrote up the rally for the Register-Herald, and the paper even had photo that featured Thomas.

Alas, no mention in the Register-Herald story of Thomas and his ties to Blankenship. Instead, Porterfield quoted Tim Boothe, a former state Trooper, describing those who attended the protest:

We’re all just concerned citizens.

As best I can tell, Thomas has attended at least one other rally against the cap-and-trade bill. It took place the morning of the House of Representatives vote on the legislation, and Thomas can be seen at the end of this YouTube video of the event:

The protest took place outside the Huntington office of Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., and a few hours later Rahall announced that he would join Democrat Alan Mollohan and Republican Shelley Moore Capito in voting against the bill.

romandstauffer_-_twitter2.jpgThen, there's Roman Stauffer, another activist from Blankenship's And For the Sake of the Kids campaign against Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw. (Check out this photo of the campaign crew. That's Stauffer standing at the far fight).

These days, Stauffer is running West Virginia Red, a GOP blog,  and is using it to promote the heck out of the rallies against the cap-and-trade bill, including two events planned for Saturday in Charleston and Beckley.

cornelius_rob_tweet.jpgFinally, there's Rob Cornelius, another guy who worked for Blankenship's And for the Sake of the Kids effort back in 2004.  Cornelius writes a regular column now for the Bray Cary media empire's State Journal, but the paper never discloses the columnists ties to Blankenship.  The most recent column, Byrd's Vote Can Be Key on Climate Debate, defies description. But this will give you the flavor of it:

I dream that Sen. Byrd is healthy enough to return to the Senate and be a part of this debate about a bill that will cost the poorest West Virginians their last heating and electricity dollars.

Though injured, like Darth Vader at the end of "Return Of The Jedi," he will have the strength to intercede as Emperor Obama slowly chokes the life out of a young warrior named Manchin. The irony of Byrd pitching the emperor down a reactor shaft or some such with a deciding Senate vote against cap and trade should not be lost.

"Help us Robert C. Byrd; you're our only hope."

... We just have to find our cowboy, Han Solo-type to make my dream work. Not sure even who that is yet. But auditions to be the next governor and look good in a leather vest will be under way. Get your measurements in soon.

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But it's not just that some of Blankenship's old political team are involved in and promoting these events, and otherwise trying to work West Virginians into a tax-hating frenzy over this bill. Some of the folks who are directly organizing and speaking for the groups sponsoring the events have pretty close political ties to the Massey president, too.

There's Fred Joseph, the retired businessman and political candidate who puts himself out there as spokesman for West Virginians Against Cap and Trade. And then there's Mike Stuart, who heads the Conservative Foundation, another group drumming up opposition to the bill.

Joseph and Stuart were among the Republican legislative candidates who got Blankenship's support -- and his money -- in the Massey president's miserably failed effort to take over the Statehouse in 2006.

Blankenship maxed out on direct campaign contributions to Joseph, with $2,000.  And some of Blankenship's longtime associates donated as well, including Massey officer Baxter Phillips and Ben Hatfield, now with International Coal Group. Counting PAC contributions from coal, the industry accounted for -- and this is a generously low estimate based on a quick review -- more than one-fifth of Joseph's campaign money.

Stuart? Well, I only found a single $1,000 contribution from Blankenship. But like Joseph, Stuart was also among the legislative candidates that Blankenship supported through an independent expenditure blitz that did not involve direct contributions to candidate campaign committees (See here and here). And Massey's PAC chipped in $1,000.  Stuart received thousands of dollars in contributions from other coal industry folks -- including Buck Harless, Andrew Jordon, Roger Nicholson, Bob McLusky and Gary White. And Massey board member Dan Moore held a fundraiser that netted more than $12,000 from folks like Dwayne Francisco, who was president of Aracoma Coal Co. when two miners died in a fatal fire in January 2006.

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It's hard to know if these cap-and-trade protests are having any effect. WSAZ-TV said Rockefeller issued this statement after the event outside his Charleston office earlier this week (See Gazette photo by Larry Pierce, above):

I'm glad to hear from so many West Virginians about this really important issue. I will absolutely fight for the future of coal and jobs in our state. I will not support an energy bill that threatens West Virginia’s future. Technology can make coal even cleaner, but our nation cannot survive without energy from coal. People in the rest of the country need to know how dependent on West Virginia coal they are.

Before you know it, West Virginia's entire congressional delegation is going to be jumping out of an airplane ...

17 Responses to “Who’s afraid of cap and trade?”

  1. Nanette says:

    The best that I could see from the photo of the cap and trade protest in front of Rockefeller’s office is about 15 people. According to Rockefeller’s words “I’m glad to hear from so many West Virginians about this really important issue.”

    15 people????? He listens to 15 people but snubs his nose at the many hundreds who have contacted him over coal and climate issues on the environmental side?

    Jumping out of an airplane……….hmmmm. That last line is such a teaser. Ken, you don’t want me to go there.

  2. Vernon says:

    I think they’re using the wrong movie analogy. The Massey logo is clearly Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings, and some of the recent videos of picnic disruptors seem to depict orcs.

  3. Dan Heintzman says:

    If people like Mr Ward get their way, West Virginia will go back to the horse and buggy days. He is against MTR, the making of C-8 at DuPont near Parkersburg, and PPG Industries New Martinsville plant. I have friends that work at all three places. They make good very good money working UNION jobs.

  4. […] The Connections Behind a W.Va. Anti-Climate Bill Campaign (Coal Tattoo) […]

  5. LM says:

    Ken, just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t after you.

  6. McGee says:

    Your blog is so far from the truth… it just proves how little you know about the Anti Cap & Trade movement.

    You have no idea!

  7. Namkrow says:

    Concerning the global warming issue, there is no definite scientific evidence that proves the point to me. Both sides have a lot of rhetoric but no real evidence.
    I believe that Al Gore( the guy that invented the internet) and many others are promoting the issue for the $$$$. I’ll bet that their technology, their equipment for the problem is the best available for the solution. Thus a hugh amount of government money needs to be thrown in their direction.
    Now look at the government’s record on the postal system, the education system,the welfare system, Social Security system, Congress’s approval rating, and of course the” bailout” plan. The government is the last institution I want to oversee a solution for a problem that may or may not exist. And there is no way that I want them to tax me on the energy that I use to keep my self warm in the winter.
    This cap and trade bill would ultimately add to the problem if it exist. There would be so many wood burning stoves in peoples homes that it would add to the problem of CO2 emissions.

  8. Thomas Rodd says:

    Ken, keep on mining the false claims that were made in the unsuccessful efforts to defeat the Clean Air Act. The same kind of lies and bogus predictions are being told now about climate change policy legislation.

    Why?

    The many intelligent and well-advised people who have big investments in America’s coal industry can see the writing on the wall. A number of them, unfortunately (but understandably), would like to delay the inevitable and keep “business as usual” going for a few more years.

    However, because the climate change situation is so serious, they are not going to succeed.

  9. Thomas Rodd says:

    Here’s some interesting information on Carbon Capture and Sequestration (“CCS”):

    http://www.grist.org/article/2009-07-17-coal-industry-downplays-ccs-prospects-senate/

    It may be that the longer coal owners/industries can delay CCS’ conceivable useful application, the more leverage they have to try to reduce CO2 emissions limits now, and continue to make money on “business as usual.”

    In other words, it may be that coal owners/industries have a strong disincentive to advance CCS quickly — even though CCS may, in many smart peoples’ estimation, be necessary to save civilization!

    Remember that the Bush administration cancelled FutureGen, the first full-scale CCS demonstration plant in Illinois.

    What a world! Got to keep eyes wide open!

  10. Matthew Cook says:

    Here is an interesting link for those interested in CCS and global warming and windmills from Bloomberg news.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ayrp6gh7Gpi0

  11. Thomas Rodd says:

    Matthew Cook’s link is to an article that is a good example of the thinking of well-informed pro-CCS energy policy experts. They think that CCS is probably essential to save civilization.

    What a twisted irony, if the “business-as-usual” short-term-profits-focus of coal owners and coal-related businesses in the USA is actually undermining their support for rapid investment and deployment, to see if and how CCS can work.

  12. Anne Lieberman says:

    Mr. Ward,

    How embarrassing it must be for you that you can’t formulate a rational, factual argument FOR passage of Cap-and-Trade, and so must stoop to demonizing those who oppose it.

    I gather from your post that if a person has ever had any contact with a coal company -or even worse, a coal company executive- then in your mind they have forfeited all rights to hold any opinion on current events. And or, any opinion they might have is automatically tainted as some sort of evil. This kind of defamation, however unreasonable and ridiculous, does seem to be effective. After all, the Bush-is-Hitler politics of personal destruction worked well enough to put Democrats in control of the entire federal government. The power of hatred cannot be ignored in modern politics.

    This is why many conservatives are using their time out of power to read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to better understand your tactics.

    I forget which number this Rule is, but maybe you can tell me: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.”

    The flip side of this reality is that anyone who wants real nuts-and-bolts information about Cap and Trade (as was provided at yesterday’s public forum), will have to look for it among more moderate, libertarian or conservative sources.

    Unless, of course Sen. Rockefeller intends to invite questions at a town hall meeting?

  13. John Thomas says:

    Cap and Trade is the “cart before the horse.” Whether you believe in global warming or not, and assuming if true, it is a bad thing, the fact is that our fossil energy consumption is of necessity, not convenience. Before you put such onerous taxes on energy that Americans cannot afford to get to work or heat their houses, there need to be alternatives to coal and oil. We are not even close to being there and cost is still a burden for fixed income people. We have already seen AEP request a 40% plus increase in rates, and that is just to install the scrubbers on John Amos and Phillip Sporn power plants. Just wait until you see what electricity will cost under cap and trade. President Obama and the congressional Democratic leadership can afford it, but the average West Virginian cannot.

  14. Nanette says:

    “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” That rule is nothing new to the conservatives. They have been using that for many, many years. The problem for conservatives is that they ran it into the ground and people got sick of the fearmongering and decided to go in a different direction.

    The Bush administration used that tactic for years. I call it the “fear doctrine.” It kept them in power for eight of the longest, most miserable years in recent memory. The use of 9/11 proves my point perfectly. The target, the attack on the twin towers, they used that constantly to freeze that image in our minds, they personalized it by saying that if the dems obtained power that the attacks could be in our backyards as a mushroom cloud, they polarized it by saying that anyone who disagreed with them was unpatriotic or un American.

    In my opinion the conservatives have read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals many times over the years. They know it by heart.

    Now the fossil fuel industry is using the same tactics. To be honest I believe that the American people have picked up on that trick for the most part and are rejecting the fearmongering of the fossil fuel industry.

  15. Thomas Rodd says:

    Go, go, Nanette!

  16. William says:

    It was impossible for the house members to have read the bill in its entirety before they voted on it. It was rammed through the house by Waxman by adding “juicy” admendments for the dems sitting on the fence. Disgusting.

    Thanks to our congressional delegation for having the temerity to vote against this sham of a bill. There is nothing wrong with trying to pursue sensible climate change legislation. However, this cap and trade proposal is neither sensible, or warranted.

  17. Paul Hartling says:

    Mr. Ward,

    After reading your BLOG I wonder if you are a true West Virginian and really care about us and the future of this great state. I also wonder if you believe in “Freedom of Speech.”
    Are we a THORN in your side???? Do you put us down because we pose a threat to your far left ideas?
    Good!!!! That gives us the incentive to continue the fight.

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