Manchin blasts bill to deal with global warming

January 26, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.


You have to wonder sometimes what Gov. Joe Manchin is thinking … there he was yesterday, with all his talk about finding a “balance” between jobs and the environment. And the very next day …

Top lawmakers today introduced — at Manchin’s request — a resolution attacking efforts in Congress and by the Obama administration to tackle the global warming problem.

Larry Messina has more about this on his Lincoln Walks at Midnight blog, with links to a story by his Associated Press colleague, Tom Breen.

This is the kind of stuff I was talking about when I wrote the post, W.Va. Legislature: The race to stand up more for coal.   It’s about Gov. Manchin and the lawmakers who back this resolution making headlines and stirring things up. I’m surprised it doesn’t use the phrase “war on coal” in there somewhere.

What make me say that?

Well, look at the language of the resolution:

Expressing the will of the Legislature to oppose the adoption of a national cap and trade program for carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions that is unduly burdensome to the State of West Virginia …

That the Legislature of West Virginia is opposed to the adoption of a national cap and trade program for carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions if it creates unnecessary volatility in the energy market, fails to address the energy and security needs of this country, threatens the jobs of hardworking men and women, raises energy costs to an unacceptable amount ..

And then there’s the numbers cited by the resolution:

Whereas, House Resolution 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, hereinafter referred to as the Act, is pending approval in Congress; and

Whereas, The Act calls for the establishment of a national cap and trade program that, if effected, would reduce West Virginia’s gross domestic product by an estimated $750 million by 2020 and by an estimated $1.75 billion by 2030; and

Whereas, West Virginia would lose up to 10,000 jobs by 2020 and up to 22,000 jobs by 2030 if the proposed cap and trade program is enacted; and
Whereas, The industries that would be most affected by the proposed cap and trade program include mining, retail trade and health care;

Those look pretty similar to figures cited by a Daily Mail story a while back, quoting from a speech West Virginia University’s Tom Witt gave to the Chamber of Commerce meeting at The Greenbrier.

But, my understanding is that the WVU study hasn’t been released, and I don’t see a copy of it on the university’s Web site.  So, there’s no way for anyone to know how they come up with those figures and whether they’re accurate. And just as important, it doesn’t seem to account for any new jobs that might be provided by the shift to cleaner technologies that would not contribute as much to climate change.

(Upated: The governor’s office has provided a draft copy of the report and I’ve posted it here. I am just now looking at it for the first time. I’d be interested in what Coal Tattoo readers have to say about it)

(Updated again: Here’s a link on WVU’s Web site for a longer version of the report)

So, how much “balance” is Gov. Manchin really trying to strike on this issue?

Is he really trying to “embrace the future,” as Sen. Byrd has urged West Virginia leaders to do? Sen. Byrd said our leaders need to be “honest brokers” and that “to be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem.”

Well, the closest the governor’s resolution comes to admitting  that global warming is a problem is where it expresses the will of the Legislature:

… To support measures that encourage investments in technology to address carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions … [and that]

Additional investments are needed to address carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the current energy supply … 

But that part is buried among all of the talk of “unduly burdensome” regulations and the unsupported figures for the climate change bill’s potential impacts on West Virginia.

If the real goal here was to urge the Obama administration and congressional leaders to carve a piece of legislation that is more helpful to keeping coal competitive in a carbon-constrained world (despite what projections show to be an inevitable decline in Central Appalachian coal production), it seems like a much more “balanced” resolution could have been drafted.

But beyond that — what message does this resolution being introduced the day after Manchin’s meeting with coalfield residents send? Couldn’t they have waited a day or two before they threw out their “stop cap-and-trade” stuff?

25 Responses to “Manchin blasts bill to deal with global warming”

  1. roselle says:

    There are some good reasons to oppose cap and trade. Some in the industry, most notably Duke Energy CEO and Chairman Paul Anderson has proposed a good alternative to a plan many see as to complicated, easy to game and benefiting some more than others.

    Read his comments here; (

    But the Governor is not proposing any alternatives to what Anderson has called the elephant in the room… climate change. Ignoring climate change will not benefit anyone in West Virginia. Taking bold steps to address carbon emissions now could have many benefits, including a cleaner, safer and more prosperous economy than the one the region now has. I suspect he will have some regrets about fighting this bill in the near future. There may come a time when voters will be angry that nothing was done when there was an opportunity available to do something positive instead of just blowing up more mountains to mine more coal.

  2. A-Mouse says:

    By the time Manchin should’ve been feeling some guilt about not doing what he should’ve, he’ll be sitting high on his hog in the US Senate. Let’s hope that doesn’t come to pass though.

  3. rhmooney3 says:

    Coal mining is a small part of the coal business — more money is made transporting coal than mining it…and even more is made from burning it.

    Electric utilities are running away from coal because of its environmental costs which can no longer be ignored — regardless of climate change.

    The climate change cap-and-trade stuff is a gift to the utilities so that they don’t dump coal too quickly.

    Thankfully, WV also has met coal, for which, the market will continue to grow — thanks mostly to China’s industrial growth.

    This issue is history, but politically its banner still has to be waved.

  4. Kevin says:

    A few note for the previous commentors. Duke is at this time putting solar on peoples homes along with building wind. China last year said they will spend 10 trillion on solar by 2020. Today China with all the bad has more effecient coal plants produces a large part of the solar products used and also is #1 in the world with solar thermal used for hot water. So what about poor old WV and it’s coal. China says “use it until it is gone we need jobs!!”

  5. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    If it appears some comments have been removed, they have. We don’t allow name-calling on Coal Tattoo and those of you who responded to it have also had your posts removed — they don’t make any sense once what you were responding to is gone.

    Please keep it polite, folks.


  6. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    And by the way, Manchin’s communications director, Matt Turner, says the meeting yesterday and cap and trade are totally different issues:


  7. Robert says:

    Typical Manchin. WV is at the bottom of so many categories and he has time for this. Give me a break.

  8. […] Blogs @ The Charleston Gazette – » Manchin blasts bill to deal with global warming – view page – cached You have to wonder sometimes what Gov. Joe Manchin is thinking … there he was yesterday, with all his talk about finding a “balance” between jobs and the environment. And the very next day … […]

  9. edouard says:

    This is the last straw for me. I supported Joe strongly in 2004, knowing full well we weren’t electing an Abe Lincoln or a Huey Long. I knew his Republicrat ideology would be dominant, but I liked his Mannington roots and ability to communicate with and channel the simple dreams and fears of everyday blue-collar West Virginians. I thought he had the postential to transcend his small-town, small-business, chamber-of-commerce Babbitry and become an honest broker standing between Mr. & Ms. Joe Sixpack and the vested business/corporate interests, much the way Senator Byrd has done, because, he, too, like Joe came from a real place deep in the heart of a no-big-deal place in West Virginia. Sophia, on the one hand; Mannington, on the other.

    Let me also say that I’m not a big “environmentalist,” or at least I’ve never been accused of being a card-carrying one, and that’s something I’m proud of. I’m disturbed, for example, by the breezy superficiality with which the “greens” prescribe panaceas like wind power as a replacement for jobs and revenue that would be lost by the sudden abolition of MTR.

    As for federal climate change/cap-trade legislation, yeah, I support it, but now is not the right time for it in this election year and this economy. In no small part because we don’t have close to 60 votes in the Senate and the last thing the American people want to see right now out of this White House and this Congress is another interminable legislative, sausage-making clusterf@#k like health care. It’s not a high enough priority for the public now, especially when the Dems are tacking against the prevailing political winds.
    But this is too much, for many, many reasons. I’m tempted to use extremely rude language to describe the whorish opportunism of this, especially in these circumstances. If Joe and legislature want to pass some BS resolution praising coal and advocating the waste of billions of dollars on “clean coal” research, well, fine, this is, after all, West Virginia, and there’s a degree of cynicism anyone as politically realistic is willing to accept.

    But not this. By including the cap-trade component it’s a slap in the face to Senator Byrd, President Obama, and the national Democratic Party in a time of political trouble.

    I’m considering asking some county Democratic committees I’m familiar with to pass a resolution condemning Joe Manchin for this slatternly defiance of Senator Byrd, the president and the national party.

    They won’t do it, but who cares? That’s not the point. It’s time, I’m sad to say, to start openly defying Joe Manchin from within the middle of the Democratic Party rather than just from the left.

  10. scott 14 says:

    Good for the Gov. He is one who realizes that coal is the present and future of WV. We are in enough economic trouble without placing more taxes on energy. With energy demand expected to grow in the future, would you rather import oil or use a domestic energy source that is PROVEN to provide base load power at the lowest cost. That my friends is COAL.

  11. Thomas Rodd says:

    It’s going to be quite a year on climate policy!

    A personal note: for a combination of personal and professional reasons, I have to take a break from both reading and commenting on Coal Tattoo — for an undetermined period of time.

    I think it’s been for close to a year that I have been spouting off here, and it’s been a GREAT experience. The quality of discussion at Coal Tattoo is remarkable, especially as compared to many other blogs. Ken and his readers and posters are doing a great job!

    I feel I have gotten to know some good people — coming from all kinds of different perpectives — and seen their views and understanding evolve, as mine certainly have, as they examine and discuss their own and others’ ideas.

    Hope to be back soon.

    Tom Rodd

  12. rhmooney3 says:

    January 26, 2010

    Dear Dr. Donohue: My daughter has accused me of not caring about the environment. She complains that I flatulate more often than most individuals. Furthermore, she claims that the gas an individual passes contributes to global warming. Thus, she says that my passing of wind shows no concern for the environment. I don’t know if I am physically able to keep my gas to myself in order to go green. Is my daughter really right?
    – Anon.

    A: Is your daughter for real?

    No human can stop the production of intestinal gas. We have little control over it. Every human passes gas, including your daughter. People do so from 10 to 20 times a day.

    Colon bacteria are responsible for gas production. They feast on foods we don’t digest, and gas is a byproduct of their feasting.
    The major gases in colon-produced gas are nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen. Traces of sulfur-containing gases are responsible for its unpleasant odor.

    Greenhouse gases – the gases that blanket the earth and warm it, the way greenhouse glass does for a greenhouse – include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and fluorocarbons. Most of the carbon dioxide that contributes to greenhouse effect comes from the use of fossil fuels: gas, oil, gasoline and coal. The majority of methane gas that adds to the greenhouse effect is derived from livestock, coal mining, drilling for oil and from garbage landfills.

    Carbon dioxide is the byproduct of many industrial processes. If your daughter is truly worried over your contribution to the greenhouse effect, she should realize that her breathing contributes a significant amount of carbon dioxide to it. She blows out carbon dioxide with each exhalation. Humans contribute more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the yearly production of this greenhouse gas. No one suggests we stop breathing.

  13. Shelby says:

    China, India will go along with Gov Manchin. The rest of the world agrees we must do something about global warming. An iceberg the size of Rhode Island recently pulled loose from the south polar cap.

  14. pmm says:

    I am trying to understand the political wisdom of this resolution and cannot. It is total grandstanding since our legislature has no vote nationally and it insults the President, Byrd and others. If anyone can fill me in on how it will benefit the gov. or our legislature please do.

  15. Casey says:

    T-Rodd, enjoyed your perspective and take care.

  16. Watchdog says:

    There should be a balance, but stories like this make it increasingly difficult. Do we at least agree electricity does in fact have to be generated somehow? Wind can’t become a viable alternative if we’re not allowed to place the windmills anywhere but the Arizona desert.

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – A Maryland developer has agreed to drop construction plans for 31 turbines at a West Virginia wind farm, settling a lawsuit by environmentalists worried about the endangered Indiana bat.

  17. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Tom Rodd,

    I certainly wish you well, and look forward to you being back in the comments section of Coal Tattoo. Thanks for all of your kind words and your contributions.


  18. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Indeed, energy needs to come from somewhere. On the other hand, take a look back at this Coal Tattoo post:

    Part of the problem with many forms of energy development in this country is a lack of thoughtful planning and the continual push by the industries involved to get as little regulation of their projects as possible.


  19. Watchdog says:

    Good reminder on that one, Ken. Thanks.
    I do sometimes worry that opponents always will find some undotted “i” to delay things as long as possible, but it’s also true many corporations try to cut corners wherever possible.
    The word balance comes to mind again.
    On an aside, I’ve long believed that if W.Va. has to protect it, the name at least should be changed to the “Mountain State bat” or something along those lines. :)

  20. blue canary says:

    Here’s something interesting: a $200 million solar manufacturing plant is being sited in east Tennessee.

    The TN governor apparently lobbied hard for it, and there are two more plants coming. Green manufacturing jobs are available, why isn’t Manchin trying to court them? I’m sure there are plenty of West Virginians who would love those jobs!

  21. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    I think it’s also very easy to criticize folks for being “NIMBYs” when it’s not your own backyard that’s being invaded by some project you don’t want.

    Before you do that, it’s best to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes, and see how you would like it. In my reporting on various such controversies over the years, I’ve usually found that when the shoe is really on the other foot, people feel differently.

    One example is some of the folks in the area outside Morgantown who fought the TrAIL power line … some of them were folks who had for years defended the coal industry, but all of a sudden they were opposed to a power line that was proposed in large part because of West Virginia’s coal industry.


  22. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    And, folks, here’s the full AP story that Watchdog mentioned:
    (note that the project will still go forward, but it will this time get the required permits)

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A Maryland developer has agreed not to build 24 turbines and will abandon 31 proposed sites at a West Virginia wind farm, settling a lawsuit by environmental groups worried about potential harm to the endangered Indiana bat.

    Under the deal announced Wednesday, Beech Ridge Energy of Rockville will seek incidental take permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as ordered last month by U.S. District Judge Roger Titus. He had temporarily halted construction of the Greenbrier County project, which now will have no more than 100 turbines.

    Beech Ridge Energy also agreed to operate turbines during the bats’ annual hibernation period, from mid-November to March 31, and only during daylight hours in the months of the year when they are not hibernating.

    D.J. Schubert, a biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute of Washington, D.C., said the settlement was a reasonable compromise that protects the bat population but also lets the builder proceed with an alternative energy project.

    “It’s a victory for all parties who are supportive of green energy but who feel that green energy companies have to be held to some standard in terms of ensuring their projects do not harm and threaten the environment,” Schubert said. “A standard has been set now, and we certainly hope the renewable energy industry takes heed.”

    Joe Condo, vice president and general counsel for Beech Ridge Energy’s parent company, Invenergy LLC of Chicago, said the company was also pleased.

    “This compromise will permit Beech Ridge Energy to continue employing skilled West Virginia construction workers to finish building the project and to proceed with the hiring of the full-time local operations team,” he said in a statement.

    Beech Ridge can immediately begin building as many as 67 turbines, Condo said, and the terms of the agreement mean the company can “begin providing clean energy to West Virginia in the first half of 2010.”

    The Animal Welfare Institute and the Williamsburg, W.Va.-based Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy had sued both Beech Ridge and Invenergy, which planned to appeal the judge’s December ruling.

    Under the settlement, however, the developers agreed to drop their appeal and the plaintiffs agreed they will not challenge any incidental take permits the Fish and Wildlife Service may issue.

    Such permits are required when landowners, companies, state or local governments build projects that might harm wildlife that is listed as endangered or threatened.

    The plaintiffs also agreed in court documents signed Tuesday that they will not file more complaints with the West Virginia Public Service Commission over siting certificates for the project.

  23. Jason Robinson says:

    This is the sort of problem that habitat conservation plans are intended to solve. Oh, I can come up with many cynical reasons why these industries have so far refused to participate in this kind of planning process, but it still seems obvious to me that cooperation would be far more beneficial to the industry than ignoring the ESA outright. That latter choice results in the sorts of issues outlined above. HCPs might offer a middle road or third way for surface mining in Appalachia, and while that prospect might disturb many stakeholders, this could be a path forward that incorporates the scientific knowledge that has heretofore mostly been disregarded.

  24. Penny B. says:

    Manchin and the coal industry are doing our state such a disservice by sticking their heads in the sand about climate change legislation. Whether it happens this year, next or 5 years from now, it will happen. And, if it doesn’t happen in the next year or so, EPA will start mandating carbon emission limits. Then, we will have lost out on a chance for the funding that’s in this legislation to clean up coal and will be up chocolate creek without a spoon. In the meantime, as we continue to fight for these jobs of the past, the jobs of the future once again will have by-passed West Virginia. Massey, Consol, Arch, ICG, and others will have their profits and will be gone. Just like Olga, Armco, Westmoreland, Slab Fork, Winding Gulf, LTV, Maben, US Steel, etc. We will be left with broken people, devastated communities and an environmental mess. What a legacy for our children. Shame on Manchin.

  25. […] just two days after state lawmakers “introduced — at Manchin’s request — a resolution attacking efforts in Congress and by the Obama administration to tackle the global warming […]

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