Coal Tattoo

Manchin blasts bill to deal with global warming


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?