Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) went on Fox News on Wednesday to slam President Obama’s renewed push to take action on climate change. However, returning to the refrain that Obama has declared a “war on coal” appears not to be enough this time. Now, the coal-backed senator has upgraded his rhetoric to a “war on America.”
Mining and utilities account for Manchin’s second and third industry contributors. But Manchin is also a coal insider, maintaining an income of almost $2 million from a coal firm. Together, these can explain why he repeated the industry’s argument for climate inaction:
STEVE DOOCY (HOST): The President of the United States declared a war on coal and a war on jobs and essentially a war on West Virginia.
MANCHIN: Well, really a war on America. When you look at it from that standpoint, 8 billion-tons of coal is being burned in the world as we speak. The United States of America consumes about one billion tons. Now, what’s going to happen to the other 7 billion-tons? What’s going to happen to the countries that are consuming and using 7 billion and it’s increasing rapidly? Nothing is being done there. We have done more to clean the environment than ever in the last two decades. And there is more that can be done. The president is looking at scientists and whoever is advising him trying to meet standards that haven’t even been perfected because the government hasn’t worked with the private industries to perfect technology. We have. We’re caught in between right now, we have older plants, coal fire plants that would be retrofitted. But if try to retrofit them, they have to meet standards unattainable. So you know what they do? Nothing.
While Manchin claims there is no need to require coal plant upgrades, climate change will be unstoppable without immediate action to cut greenhouse gasses.
The multi-million dollar industry claim there is a “war on coal” also masks the economic forces that have sent coal shares plunging. In fact, coal employment was at its highest ever in 2012. Even the Weekly Standard acknowledged that coal exports have soared. But the coal industry is already mobilizing through the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity against Obama’s directives to enforce carbon pollution standards for existing power plants and cutting greenhouse gas emissions overall.
On Tuesday, Obama addressed these detractors. “The problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it’s a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity,” he said. “You know, these critics seem to think that when we ask our businesses to innovate and reduce pollution and lead, they can’t or they won’t do it. But in America, we know that’s not true.”