The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

October 21, 2009

Manchin seeks Obama’s ear on coal, cap-and-trade

CHARLESTON — The governor of the country’s second-largest coal-producing state is angling for a sit-down with President Barack Obama over his administration’s stance on climate change and its pursuit of cap-and-trade legislation.

Gov. Joe Manchin told The Associated Press on Tuesday that West Virginia has a role to play as the nation considers cutting climate-affecting energy sources.

Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere, and coal releases that gas when burned. The White House wishes to curb carbon emissions and reduce the use of fossil-derived fuel, though that goal also dovetails with the push to replace foreign oil as a key energy source.

While less than a fourth of the energy consumed in the U.S. last year came from coal, it accounted for just over half the country’s electric power. Manchin hopes that will help him persuade the president that investing in the right technology can allow the U.S. to continue to rely on coal, but more cleanly.

“Coal is going to be our primary provider of electricity for the next 30 years. That’s the practical reality,” Manchin told AP. “West Virginia is very much willing to be involved and play a responsible role.”

But the governor also said his desire to meet is unrelated to his recent frustrations with Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Manchin and other elected officials lashed out last week when the EPA announced plans to revoke a previously issued permit for a West Virginia surface mine. Agency officials cited “very serious concerns” about possible Clean Water Act violation by what would be Appalachia’s largest authorized mountaintop removal operation.

While upset with the regulators, Manchin said that doesn’t have to be a topic of any White House meeting. He instead wants to revisit the sort of talks the two had when Obama was in the U.S. Senate.

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