Coal Tattoo


West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller today is introducing legislation seeking to delay — for two years — any federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Rockefeller says his bill aims to give Congress:

… The time it needs to address an issue as complicated and expansive as our energy future … Congress, not the EPA, must be the ideal decision-maker on such a challenging issue.

West Virginia’s senator previously joined the charge against any effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse emissions, something the U.S. Supreme Court has said EPA clearly has the authority (the obligation, actually, if you bother to read EPA’s endangerment finding) to do.

Rockefeller’s legislation is available online here, as is a previous letter from the senator to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Jackson’s reply. Rockefeller said:

Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson challenging EPA’s potential regulation of greenhouse gases. Administrator Jackson responded quickly and showed some willingness to move the agency’s timetable for regulation to the end of 2010.  This is a positive change and good progress, but I am concerned it may not be enough time. We must set this delay in stone and give Congress enough time to consider a comprehensive energy bill to develop the clean coal technologies we need.  At a time when so many people are hurting, we need to put decisions about clean coal and our energy future into the hands of the people and their elected representatives, not a federal environmental agency.

Of course, the problem with what Rockefeller is doing is that the House of Representatives has already passed climate change legislation — a bill that the United Mine Workers of America union said provides a “remarkable” amount of “clean coal” money and ensures “the future of coal will be intact.”

But that hasn’t stopped Reps. Nick J. Rahall and Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., and Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., from introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Politically, many progressive voices in the coal industry — including American Electric Power and the United Mine Workers — have pointed to the threat of EPA action on greenhouse gases as a strong reason for Congress itself to act. Without that threat of EPA rules hanging over its head, will Congress step up and do something?

Odd, isn’t it, that the background materials issued by Rockefeller’s office on this legislation didn’t include any draft of the senator’s own plan to actually do something about climate change, rather than just delay for the sake of the coal industry?