Manchin: Climate bill will destroy the might of this nation

January 8, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

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Hey folks, The Associated Press is having its annual pre-legislative briefings for reporters this afternoon at Marshall University’s South Charleston campus. They asked me to moderate a session about cap-and-trade legislation … and after that session Gov. Joe Manchin spoke to the reporters. I thought I would post the latest dispatch from AP on the meeting … too bad Gov. Manchin didn’t arrive in time to here what American Electric Power — the largest coal purchaser in the country — had to say … or what the United Mine Workers thinks:

By TOM BREEN

Associated Press Writer

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — There’s no point in debating the science of climate change, because it’s already a political and legal reality, energy industry experts said Friday.

Representatives from the United Mine Workers of America and American Electric Power, the nation’s largest single buyer of coal, told The Associated Press’ annual Legislative Lookahead forum that West Virginia policymakers needto recognize that new reality.

Requirements ordering companies to reduce their carbon emissions are on their way, said Tim Mallen, an environmental manager for AEP. “Whether it comes this year or next year is not really that big a deal. It’s coming.”

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation setting requirements for the reduction of carbon emissions and establishing incentives to meet those goals.

The bill, often referred to as “cap and trade” legislation, has been sharply criticized in West Virginia by coal producers and their allies, who say the bill amounts to a job killer for West Virginia’s most iconic industry.

The measure is currently parked in the U.S. Senate, which has its own climate change bill. But both Mallen and Eugene Trisko, a lawyer for the UMWA, say regulation is coming regardless of what happens to either bill.

A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision charged the federal Environmental Protection Agency with regulating carbon emissions, and Trisko said regulation from that agency could produce “far more deleterious impacts on miners, mining communities and the state of West Virginia than would properly balanced national legislation.”

Without discussing climate change itself, Gov. Joe Manchin said later in the forum that the EPA and the Obama administration are pursuing a misguided policy. He slammed the cap and trade legislation in Congress.

“Cap and trade will destroy the might of this nation,” he said.

Manchin said coal as a resource is “in transition,” but it can be made more environmentally friendly, with federal help rather than federal antagonism.

“They’ve got to be committed to fixing the problem,” he said. “They can’t just be committed to vilifying the things they don’t like.”

Both Trisko and Mallen said the House bill is flawed, but contains helpful provisions. In particular, they want to see increased federal investment in carbon capture and sequestration technologies designed to reduce power plant emissions, like the project AEP launched at its Mountaineer plant in Mason County.

But the union and AEP think the benchmarks for carbon emission reductions being discussed in Congress are unrealistic. The House bill, for instance, calls for a 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2020, the equivalent of roughly a billion tons.

“It is equivalent to removing every car, pickup truck and SUV from the road,” Trisko said, calling that “too much too soon.”

Development of other energy sources is also essential for West Virginia, which relies heavily on coal as an energy source and a keystone of economic life, said Evan Hansen of Downstream Strategies, an environmental consulting firm in Morgantown.

Hansen said West Virginia needs to expand its development of other energy sources, including wind power, ahead not only of federal regulation but an anticipated drop in Central Appalachian coal production over the next two decades.

The development of “decentralized wind power” — basically, personal turbines running at homes and other locations — is one example, Hansen said. He also argued that thousands of jobs can be created by remediating environmental problems on abandoned mine sites, estimating that up to 4,000 jobs could be creating by focusing on water pollution on old mine lands alone.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there to help diversify the local economy as coal production slows down,” Hansen said.

10 Responses to “Manchin: Climate bill will destroy the might of this nation”

  1. […] Blogs @ The Charleston Gazette – » Manchin: Climate bill will ‘destroy the might of this nation??… blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2010/01/08/manchin-climate-bill-will-destroy-the-might-of-this-nation – view page – cached Hey folks, The Associated Press is having its annual pre-legislative briefings for reporters this afternoon at Marshall University’s South Charleston campus. They asked me to moderate a session about cap-and-trade legislation … and after that session Gov. Joe Manchin spoke to the reporters. I thought I would post the latest dispatch from AP on the meeting … too bad Gov. Manchin… Read moreHey folks, The Associated Press is having its annual pre-legislative briefings for reporters this afternoon at Marshall University’s South Charleston campus. They asked me to moderate a session about cap-and-trade legislation … and after that session Gov. Joe Manchin spoke to the reporters. I thought I would post the latest dispatch from AP on the meeting … too bad Gov. Manchin didn’t arrive in time to here what American Electric Power — the largest coal purchaser in the country — had to say … or what the United Mine Workers thinks: View page […]

  2. Thomas Rodd says:

    “There’s no point in debating the science of climate change, because it’s already a political and legal reality, energy industry experts said Friday.”

    I can imagine a similar statement in the 1960s: “There’s no point in debating racial integration in public accommodations, because it’s already a political and legal reality, hotel experts said Friday.”

    Or, as Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  3. Red Desert says:

    The statement that a 20% cut is equal to taking all cars, SUV’s and pick-ups off the road doesn’t sound correct.

    First, the House bill requires a 17%, not a 20% cut. Second, all transportation emissions are equal to 33% of total US AGHG CO2 emissions.

    Petroleum–used mainly for transportation–accounts for 37% of US energy and 43% of US CO2 emissions (2007)

    Coal accounts for 23% of US emissions and 36% of US CO2 emissions (2007).

  4. Kevin says:

    Red, you may want to read the foot notes on the study you are quoting. 23% of US emissions and 36% of CO2 is incorrect for coal. The study noted emmissions from coal was not reported by utilities only by corperations providing facility power not sold to the public.

  5. Red Desert says:

    Kevin–

    Thanks–that’s a typo on my part. Coal accounts for 23% of total US energy, but 36% of US CO2 emissions.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=environment_where_ghg_come_from

  6. bo webb says:

    Yes, Manchin, why don’t we work on solving problems, great idea!
    Hmm. how about that little problem at Marsh Fork Elementary School. Should be an easy fix. Let’s see now, according to Massey Energy, they pay WV more than 5 million dollars a month is severance taxes from their mtr operations around and near the school. Yet, our kids and teachers are trapped in a polluted and dilapidated school. Seems like an easy fix. If Joe can’t solve that little problem, how can any voter expect him to ever be able to solve the nations energy woes?

  7. Shelby says:

    It appears no one in WV payed any attention to what sen Byrd had to say recently ; he told us all that we were losing the battle in Washington. Public sentiment is for reducing environmental damage to the nations’ air,water, lands of the country

  8. Casey says:

    The Gov ain’t perfect but the state has fared better than many in the downturn. If he can fix some of the negative business climate issues then it will fare even better. His weighting on the benefit side of coal exceeds yours and the Mountain Party has not been elected into this position by the state’s constituents. There are a lot of members of FACES and Friends of Coal so serving the voters that elected him is prudent politically on his part.

  9. Nanette says:

    Actually I believe that a governor should listen to and represent all of the people in his or her state, not just front groups for corporations.

  10. […] Sometimes, it appears the governor is just trying to outdo himself with his statements about cap-and-trade and Obama’s crackdown on mountaintop removal. One day, he says the White House is trying to “kill off surface mining,”  and the next he says climate legislation will “destroy the might of this nation.” […]

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