October 22, 2014

Changing Minds Concerning Coal | Wheeling Intelligencer

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has a well-deserved reputation as a conciliator, eager and often able to make political opponents understand his positions and sometimes agree with them.

He may have taken on his toughest battle to date - persuading other senators the war on coal and affordable electricity is bad policy not just for West Virginia, but for the nation as a whole.

To that end, Manchin is showing a fellow senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., around our state this week. They will be visting facilities related to the coal industry.

That comes on the heels of a trip Manchin made to Rhode Island, where Whitehouse explained why many residents of his state are concerned about climate change.

Climate change has become virtually a religion among too many Democrat leaders. It has become an effective political tool for them because it allows them to portray themselves as fighters against a looming global catastrophe.

Except that such is not the case, as Manchin understands. Proponents of drastic U.S. action to limit climate change are alarmists who hope voters will not see through the deception.

Manchin understands climate change should be viewed as a challenge. But he also realizes actions planned by President Barack Obama's administration - which aims for nothing less than the destruction of the domestic coal industry and shutting down virtually every coal-fired power plant in the United States - would be far more detrimental to Americans than coping with an increase in sea levels of a few millimeters.

One wonders how Rhode Island residents would react if told they could reduce their electric bills by 40 percent while affecting sea levels virtually not at all.

They could, by abandoning the natural gas-fired power plants the state relies on now and moving to coal-fired generation. The effect on global warming, even according to projections used by many climate change alarmists, would be almost unnoticeable.

Manchin's task, with Whitehouse and other senators, is to point out that coal can be used as a source of electricity in the United States without having the drastic effect on climate that the alarmists claim. That is "settled science."

And Manchin needs to convince other senators that instead of throwing away billions of dollars on unrealistic "alternative energy" such as wind and solar power, the nation should be putting more emphasis on clean coal technology.

Whitehouse's reaction to his visit to West Virginia will be interesting. No doubt there will be no sea change - no pun intended - in his attitude toward coal.

Still, efforts such as Manchin's cannot help but be productive. If they prompt Whitehouse and other senators to ask just a few more questions about whether climate change alarmism is good for Americans, they will be more than worth the effort.