Coal Tattoo

It’s good that Gov. Manchin is taking such a “balanced approach” to coal issues in his campaign for the U.S. Senate … If you’ve missed it, the latest Manchin campaign ad promotes the governor’s lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and his opposition to federal legislation — supported by American Electric Power and praised by the United Mine Workers — to curb global warming:

I sued EPA, and I’ll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill, because it’s bad for West Virginia.

If the television ads from all sides weren’t enough to make the public tired of politicians and elections, imagine if you had to deal with the campaign consultants and PR people constantly trying to run down their guy’s opponent.

Absent from any of it is any thought of actually discussing the issues in a way that allows the voters to make good decisions come Election Day.

Take the phone call I just got last week from a nice fellow from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee … This guy wanted me to do a story about some remarks that Republican Senate candidate John Raese made four or five years ago about “abolishing federal pollution rules.”

Now, I don’t know exactly what remarks he was talking about, but I would be surprised if Mr. Raese didn’t make them, given what he’s said on his campaign Web site about government regulations:

Unshackle our businesses, small and large, by eliminating unnecessary regulation and taxes while streamlining those that will remain.

But you should have heard this Democratic campaign guy squirm around when I asked him about Gov. Manchin’s lawsuit  to try to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from applying Clean Water Act protections to mountaintop removal coal mining here in Appalachia.

You remember that lawsuit, the one in which DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said that EPA has “invaded and usurped the authority of the state of West Virginia” to regulate its own coal-mining industry.

The DSCC guy said that EPA lawsuit was a different issue … How so, I asked? He said he would have to get back to me on that.

On the one hand, Gov. Manchin wants to trumpet how he’ll stand up to those nasty federal regulators who want to protect West Virginia’s mountains and streams (not to mention the planet’s climate). On the other hand, Manchin’s Democratic Party supporters nationally want to convince me to do a story about how bad John Raese would be for the environment? Come now.

Democrats may have lots of reasons to support Gov. Manchin on Nov. 2. But even the governor isn’t arguing that his record on environmental issues and coal is one of them.

My buddy from the DSCC?  That phone call was last Thursday, and I haven’t heard a peep out of him since.