West Virginia’s senior senator took a strong stand against the misguided Murkowski amendment that would have gutted the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The other senator from West Virginia John D. Rockefeller IV supported Murkowski with the backing of Governor Joe Manchin.
Senator Byrd is urging his constituents to build their future on reality instead of rhetoric:
As I have said before, to deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out” of the future. But we have also allowed ourselves to ignore other realities. It is a simple fact that the costs of producing and consuming Central Appalachian coal continue to rise rapidly. Older coal-fired powerplants are being closed down, and they appear unlikely to be replaced by new coal plants unless we very soon adopt several major changes in federal energy policy. In 2009, American power companies generated less of their electricity from coal than they have at any other time in recent memory. In the last month alone, two major power companies have reportedly announced that they will idle or permanently close over a dozen coal-fired powerplant units that have consumed millions of tons of West Virginia coal in recent years. Moreover, an even larger portion of America’s aging fleet of coal-fired powerplants could be at risk of being permanently closed in the coming years–and the ability to sell coal in those markets could be lost for an indefinite period, if there is no new Federal energy policy to support the construction of new coal plants.
One does not need to agree with Byrd in order to salute his leadership which contrasts so starkly with other statewide politicians in West Virginia.