by Steve Milloy
Charleston Daily Mail, February 24, 2011
Candidate Joe Manchin famously took “dead aim” at the cap-and-trade bill last year with a high-powered rifle. But now, Sen. Manchin is infamously going after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s backdoor cap-and-trade with a popgun.
Although somewhat late to the anti-cap-and-trade party in 2010, Sen. Manchin’s bold TV ad punctuated the demise of the Waxman-Markey bill that would have destroyed the coal industry.
Manchin said in the ad that cap-and-trade was “bad for West Virginia” and that he would “defend” his state and “take on this administration.”
But of course, that was last fall, before the election. About a week after Manchin was sworn in as a senator, President Obama’s EPA responded to (ignored?) his tough campaign talk by yanking a needed permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, jeopardizing a $250 million investment and 250 jobs.
Sadly, “Dead-aim” Joe has become Washington, D.C., Joe.
Manchin’s public response to the EPA’s regulatory thuggery has been to work on and support new legislation – as if Washington, D.C., sausage-making were the direct answer to anything.
One bill the senator is drafting would retroactively undo the EPA’s action against Spruce No. 1.
The problem with this bill is that even if it actually passed the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, President Obama would most likely veto it – and there probably aren’t enough votes to override a presidential veto on coal-related issues.
In fact, there’s no guarantee the bill would even get to the Senate floor in the first place.
Remember, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised last year to bring to the floor Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s bill to defer for two years EPA’s anti-coal regulation of greenhouse gases.
But the wily anti-coal Sen. Reid went back on his word and nothing came of Sen. Rockefeller’s naive effort.
Now that EPA has commenced regulating greenhouse gases, Rockefeller has again offered a bill to delay EPA regulation, and D.C. Joe has dutifully signed on as a co-sponsor – even though Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo., introduced a competing bill that would absolutely block the EPA from its anti-coal jihad.
While it cannot be expected that party loyalty and deference to a senior senator from one’s own state plays no role in politics, West Virginians should expect more from the man who used to be “dead aim” Joe.
For starters, Manchin should sign on to Barasso’s bill as a co-sponsor. The EPA has struck at West Virginia, and Manchin must return the favor.
The president would get the powerful political message that “Dead-aim” Joe is serious about protecting West Virginia.
But since Barasso’s bill faces the same presidential veto hurdle as the bill to undo the EPA’s action against Spruce No. 1, Manchin is going to need to do much more.
One thing he could do is work toward developing congressional courage for cutting the EPA’s budget – the only meaningfully punitive measure that can be had against that rogue agency until President Obama leaves office.
House Republican budget cutters have their knives out for the EPA; Sen. Manchin should join them and convince his colleagues to do the same.
As demonstrated by the Spruce No. 1 mine permit revocation, the Obama EPA takes no prisoners. Cap-and-trade was the old threat. Anti-coal regulatory action by the EPA and other agencies is the new threat.
Not only are these agencies worthy of “Dead-aim” Joe’s best efforts, but West Virginia and its coal industry need them.
Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).