Coal Tattoo

Every four years, West Virginia’s Democratic political leaders wonder why they can’t convince voters in the state’s coalfields to support Democratic presidential candidates — at least in big enough numbers to make us a “Blue State” again.

Could one reason be that during recent Democratic administrations, West Virginia party leaders spend three years attacking their leadership’s efforts to protect the environment and public health — and then when an election rolls around the public debate is so polluted that it’s impossible to have an honest dialogue?

I don’t know. But one thing is clear: My good friend Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., wins the award for most, uh, colorful rhetoric in responding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final water quality guidance for surface mines in Appalachia.

Here’s what he said, according to a report from Greenwire (subscription required):

With this guidance document, EPA has not only appointed itself judge, jury and executioner, but has also deemed itself Almighty God. While EPA goes to great pains to state this guidance is not legally binding, we are all too aware that it will use it as a club to subdue all parties involved in the permitting process to its will.