Coal Tattoo

This Tuesday July 5, 2009 file photo shows Carte Goodwin, who was West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s General Counsel, at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., Tuesday, July 5, 2005. Goodwin will be Gov. Joe Manchin’s temporary appointee to the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s seat. (AP Photo/Bob Bird, File)

So much for any chance that Gov. Joe Manchin’s choice  to temporarily replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd would support broader efforts in the Congress to try to do something about the looming threat to humanity from global warming

Charleston lawyer Carte Goodwin offered these remarks on the topic today at the news conference where Manchin announced his appointment:

… I’m a little reluctant to get into an extensive political discussion on any particular piece of legislation. That being said, with regard to cap and trade, I will say this: From what I’ve seen of the Waxman-Markey bill  that passed the House of Representatives and other proposals pending in the Senate, they simply are not right for West Virginia.

And I would submit that the legislation being championed by Senator Rockefeller right now that would focus investment on clean coal technology and carbon sequestration recognizes the practical effect of coal on our economy and our energy portfolio.

More broadly, let me answer the question this way: I will not support any piece of legislation that threatens any West Virginia job, any West Virginia family, or jeopardizes the long-term economic security of this state.

Goodwin added:

… You don’t have to live too far from ear-shot of any radio or newspaper to know how strongly West Virginians feel about that issue and how important it is to protect our jobs and our economy and how important it is to make those voices heard in Washington.

In Larry Messina’s Associated Press account of Goodwin’s appointment, former Manchin chief of staff Larry Puccio makes note that Goodwin was the primary author of Manchin’s coal-mine rescue reforms after the Sago and Aracoma disasters back in 2006, landmark legislation that led the way for similar federal measures. Not mentioned is Goodwin’s involvement in Manchin’s decision to back off any real investigation of the concerns about the safety of Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County.

Goodwin praised Sen. Byrd, but I have to wonder if before he says much more about coal issues he’ll go back and read the late Senator’s wise advice that West Virginians and our coal industry need to “embrace the future.” (And not for nothing, but polls show that West Virginians oppose mountaintop removal and favor clean energy).

I don’t want to be too hard on Carte Goodwin. He was just appointed a little more than an hour ago, and he’s got huge shoes to fill, even if temporarily. I wonder why he didn’t decline to answer any specific policy or legislative questions until he was at least officially sworn in …

Lots of other folks are going to make much of Goodwin’s family connections, but perhaps when doing so they might remember that his late father, Stephen Goodwin, represented Sago survivor Randal McCloy in his suit against International Coal Group. And his uncle, Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, hasn’t exactly been too friendly to the coal industry in his mountaintop removal rulings. Then there’s his first cousin, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin … he’s the federal prosecutor investigating the Upper Big Branch Mine DisasterOf course, there’s also his aunt, West Virginia Education and the Arts Secretary Kay Goodwin (Judge Goodwin’s wife), whose agency is in the middle of the delisting of Blair Mountain from the National Register of Historic Places.