West Virginia’s Coal Civil War?

It’s kind of quiet, but there may be one actually brewing.  Compare this:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., seems to have become a convert. Last week he signaled strongly that promises from the White House are not enough. During a Senate hearing on Obama’s proposal for the [2010]* budget, Rockefeller lashed out.

According to one published report, Rockefeller made it clear “he isn’t sure he trusts the president’s commitments to coal. …” Referring to Obama’s pledges to support coal, the senator complained that, “He says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in (his budget proposal). He doesn’t say it in the actions of (EPA Administrator) Lisa Jackson. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me.”

…with this (by Senator Byrd, D-WV):

To be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.

The 20 coal-producing states together hold some powerful political cards. We can have a part in shaping energy policy, but we must be honest brokers if we have any prayer of influencing coal policy on looming issues important to the future of coal like hazardous air pollutants, climate change, and federal dollars for investments in clean coal technology.

Most people understand that America cannot meet its current energy needs without coal, but there is strong bi-partisan opposition in Congress to the mountaintop removal method of mining it. We have our work cut out for us in finding a prudent and profitable middle ground – but we will not reach it by using fear mongering, grandstanding and outrage as a strategy.

So we seem to have a difference of opinion between Senators Rockefeller and Byrd about whether one can trust the President on coal policy as far as one can throw him.  It would be unkind to suggest that the reason for this is that the former is still in a position to run at least once more for elected office, while the latter… let us just say (without any ill-wish) that it is rather low-probability that Senator Byrd will be still in the Senate in 2013.  It is thus in the best interests of Senator Rockefeller to speak in terms that recognizes one elementary truth (that this administration hates coal production with the fury of a thousand burning suns**), while Senator Byrd speaks in terms that recognizes another elementary truth (that his staff is probably going to need to find new jobs in the Democratic establishment in the not-too-distant future).

One hopes that this hasn’t caused a break between the two.  They’ve been Senators together for so long that their professional relationship is old enough to serve in the House of Representatives****.

Moe Lane*’2001′ in the original piece, which was almost certainly a transcription error.

**Which is quasi-ironic, since they hate nuclear energy too***.

***It’d be fully ironic if we had cold fusion.

****And if they were from Illinois, it probably would be.

Crossposted to RedState.

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