April 11, 2012

Manchin Holds Frank Discussion at Roundtable to Win the War on Coal

Manchin thanks Governor Tomblin, FACES of Coal, business leaders and labor leaders for participating in strategy session

Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) thanked Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, FACES of Coal, the West Virginia Coal Association, labor leaders and business leaders for holding a frank strategy session today about how to work together to win the war on coal. 

“Just bringing all of us together in one room proves one thing: in West Virginia, we can work together. That’s why I say that creating a true all-of-the-above energy plan is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem; it’s a problem for all of America to solve. Neither political party can do this on their own, so we need all of your help in telling our story,” Senator Manchin said. 

During the closed-door session, Senator Manchin explained his efforts to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency and encourage more investment in clean coal technology. He highlighted the fact that the Administration is investing in unproven technologies that produce very little of the country’s energy when they should be working instead to improve the effectiveness of coal, which produces nearly half of the country’s electricity. 

“Instead of investing $500 million in bankrupt solar companies like Solyndra, we could’ve invested in cleaner coal technology and had something to show for it,” Senator Manchin said. “If the EPA wants us to build cleaner coal-fired plants, then the government should help us develop that technology.” 

Senator Manchin pointed out that West Virginians want to invest in making coal cleaner because, like all Americans, they care about their environment, economy and jobs – and that the state constantly works to keep that balance. 

“If you’re concerned about clean air and clean water, then you have to figure out how to use coal more efficiently and cleanly. Here in West Virginia, history shows that we’ve done it and can do it. We just want the federal government to be our ally, not our adversary,” Senator Manchin said. “As we’ve shown with our Alternative and Renewable Portfolio Standards, you can be ‘all in’ with every source of energy you have, reduce your emissions and maintain coal production. You just have to live in the real world, deal with the fact that coal produces nearly half this country’s electricity, work with the market you have and clean up your environment. We’ve proven that we can do that here in West Virginia.”  

Senator Manchin thanked West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Rainey for pointing out that West Virginia responsibly achieved lower emissions called for in the portfolio standards 13 years ahead of schedule – without diminishing coal production. 

Participants raised concerns with the EPA’s approach to energy on several issues, calling their war on coal an attack on “air, land and sea.” Senator Manchin described how he’s fighting new overly burdensome emissions rules that are forcing power plants to close prematurely and preventing new coal-fired plants from being built, unrealistic timetables for implementing additional rules, the backlog of permits, and EPA’s interference with state permitting programs.

Senator Manchin is on a two-week tour called “Fighting for Every Job,” and winning the war on coal is a key element of the fight. During the tour, Senator Manchin is highlighting the connection between jobs and energy independence, his agenda to help small businesses succeed, how to revitalize American manufacturing, the importance of training the workforce through higher education, and his growing effort to hire unemployed veterans. 

Manchin kicked off the tour last week with a major speech on energy and jobs at the John Amos power plant, where he vowed to fight the EPA’s proposed new rules on greenhouse gas emissions and highlighted the connection between energy independence and creating good jobs. He also outlined his energy approach: using all our domestic resources in a true “all of the above” strategy. He underscored the grave consequences if the country fails to embrace coal-fired generation, which produces about 45 percent of the energy used in the country and is projected to produce the lion’s share of energy decades into the future.  

Since arriving in the nation’s capital, Senator Manchin has fought from his first day to stand up for the state. After killing the cap-and-trade bill on the first day he took office, Senator Manchin has:

  • Proposed the EPA Fair Play Act to prevent the agency from retroactively vetoing permits; 

  • Cosponsored legislation to push for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to bring oil from Canada, our closest neighbor and ally; 

  • Proposed the American Alternative Fuels Act to allow the government to use more domestic fuels;

  • Proposed the Fair Compliance Act to create reasonable deadlines for utilities to comply with EPA rules so that jobs aren’t destroyed, the electric grid isn’t jeopardized and families don’t have to pay skyrocketing utility bills.  

  • Cosponsored the REINS Act to give Congress oversight over any regulation that has an economic impact of more than $100 million, taking those decisions out of the hands of unelected bureaucrats.