The new Republican majority is not yet in place at the West Virginia Legislature and already there is a dispute between the GOP and Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

Earlier this week, incoming House Speaker Tim Armstead said the first priority when the Legislature goes into session next month will be repealing an energy law pushed through by then-Governor Manchin and Democratic lawmakers in 2009.

The technical name of H.B. 103 is the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, but Republicans derisively call it a “cap-and-trade” law.  The legislation is designed to lower emissions from coal-fired power plants by requiring utilities to generate increasing amounts of electricity using alternative fuels: 10 percent by next year, 15 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025.

Utilities earn credits for generating electricity from alternative or renewable fuels and must maintain a certain number of credits to avoid fines. The law says “The credits may be traded, sold or used to meet the portfolio standards.”

Armstead can’t wait to relegate the law to the capitol shredder.  “We think it not only has a devastating impact on our energy sector, our coal jobs in the state, but also it will result in increased utility rates for our citizens,” Armstead told me on Talkline Monday.

Armstead is referring to a key section of the law—24-2F-7(a):  “An electric utility shall have the right to recover the costs of complying with the alternative and renewable energy portfolio standards.”  In other words, Armstead reasons, if utilities have to spend more on increasing amounts of alternative fuels, the customer gets stuck with the bill.

Manchin was reportedly livid when he heard about the Republican plan, and he vented on Talkline Thursday.  “They have the mantle now and they can set the agenda and probably do whatever suits them best. I understand that, but to call it a cap-and-trade (law)?  They know that’s disingenuous and I’m just saying we don’t need that political rhetoric here, especially when it’s inaccurate.”

Manchin says he famously highlighted his opposition to an actual cap-and-trade proposal during a 2010 campaign ad when he fired a bullet through a copy of the federal bill.

The Senator says his goal in pushing the bill through the state legislature five years ago was to encourage the development of more efficient and less polluting alternatives, including carbon-based sources such as coal gasification and liquefaction.

There are two differences, however, between 2009 and now.

First, the coal industry has taken a severe hit because of market conditions and EPA regulations.  Any plan that even sounds like cap-and-trade is going to be toxic.  And second, Democrats who supported the original bill no longer have a majority.

In the end, the most important number in this debate will not be the percentage of alternative fuels required, but rather the legislative head count.  Armstead may not fire a high-powered rifle at a copy of H.B. 103, but it’s clearly in his sights.

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Comments

  • NORM

    HOPPY DONT KNOW HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH JIM STALLINGS BUT WANT TO WISH HIM WELL NEXTWEEK LOTS OF US WILL BE THINKING OF HIM

  • Aaron

    It seems to me that if the state was interested in reducing carbon emissions they would mandate public vehicles switch to CNG with all new vehicles purchased including public transportation and school buses.

    • Shadow

      Great idea, but don't hold your breath.

  • norm

    MR HILL INORDER TO VOTE FAST JOEY OUT WE NEED TO GET THE HUNTERS OUT OF THE WOODS THEY LIKE TO KILL BAMBI

    • thornton

      Keep trying, norman....something may finally stick to the wall.

      Caps off to all the bambi-swatters!

  • norm

    THERE ARE WINDMILS IN TUCKER COUNTY I WONDER WHY FAST EDDIE AND JOEY WERE UP IN TUCKER COUNTY A LOT OF TIMES THE LAST FEW YEARS AND BY THE WAY JOEY HAS A KNACK OF CLEANING THE FLOORS IN A BAR CALLED THE PURPLE KITTY IN TUCKER COUNTY HMMMMMMMMMMMMM I WONDER HOPPY IF THAT OCCURED THE FIRST WEEK OF JULY 2008 YOU KNOW THE FIRST WEEK THAT SCOREBOARD DEAL WAS FINISHED HOPPY U THINK THE STATE LODGE KEEPS RECORDS THIS LONG GOLLY IM TALKING BOUT WIND AND GETTING WINDED

  • Uncle Cecil

    MoJo, you made the choice to jump into Washington politics. Stay out of the WV statehouse. Your cap-and-trade bill (yes, that's EXACTLY what it is) is going down…Armstead will take a flamethrower to it, not a high-powered rifle.

  • Bill Hill

    First, who the world cares what Joe Manchin says!!! Hopefully in the next election cycle the voters will return him to wherever he came from, never to be heard from again.

    Secondly, Armstead's sights may be set on the so called "cap and trade" bill, which if I'm correct the coal industry supported. While the "cap and trade" needs to be repealed, there are far more pressing matters facing this state. Matters like over regulation, high taxes, and the general size of state government. Armstead and his minions haven't said much about these items. Instead the focus on a bill because of its hype factor.

    • liberty4all

      Couldn't agree more Mr. Hill.

    • norm

      the coal industry supported manchins bill because they had no choice. as for joey he is in the energy field now

  • TD

    Here's the reality of the new power in WV, welcome to the war on facts. Seriously, what would be the best path for coal? One path is that we evolve the technology and power plants to comply with the new rules, or at least make good strides in that direction, the other is to deny there is a problem and fight against all change.

    Coal is in for a rough road, mainly because of all the new found oil & gas, the best path forward is for the industry to do all it can to improve the way its product is used. The worst thing that can happen to coal is to not make the changes that are needed for it to survive. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the new leadership wants to do.

    • norm

      fellas it doesn't take a genius to know it will be a hundred years before they know how to clean coal all the technology center does is provide jobs its nothing but a pork barrel project when first getting off its feet they built a walking trail there for a millon dollars all byrd and rocky did in this state was provide welfare for the well to do by the way CHECK WHO ALL WORKING THERE CAME FROM OUT OF THIS STATE.

    • The bookman

      TD,

      The problem is that the technology currently available to reduce emissions doesn't meet the proposed limits by the EPA. Would you spend Billions of $$$$$s to install the latest state of the art technology knowing full well you would still fall short of the limits? A fool and his money always part ways. These utilities are not foolish.

      • TD

        Bookie, read this story on the Homer City, Pa coal fired plant. It is the tallest smokestack in the country and after screaming they could not survive the new regulations they chose a new course and now are held as the model for old coal fire plants to follow. Not saying it was easy but they're going to be just fine. This is the direction our legislature should be LEADING us into, not denial.

        http://bigstory.ap.org/article/after-decades-dirty-power-plant-get-clean

        • TP

          TD, The article you reference about the Homer City plant has absolutely nothing at all to do with the issue at hand or the significant plants in WV at all. Homer City is in the process of installing scrubbers to control Sulfur Dioxide. All the large plants in WV already have scrubbers in operation. In addition, all the WV supercritical plants are already controlling NOx through SCR technology. This had nothing to do with Manchins bill, those projects had either already been completed or were in the planning phases before he was elected.

        • The bookman

          TD,

          Homer City cleaned up its pollution problem, SO2. The upgrades began over 3 years ago to reduce real pollution with technologically and economically proven strategies. That is not the case with CO2 emission reduction.

          I question whether those improvements would have been initiated in the current environment, with looming limits reaching final rule next year. I applaud the reduction of pollutants from power plants, because I too breathe the same air as you. CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a political tool.

    • JL

      That makes no sense.

  • Mike M

    Manchin comes across as someone who thinks every utterance spewed from his mouth has a basis of brilliance, is profound, and others would be ill-advised not to listen intently. He is of the opinion that he can swoop in and save us all from ourselves. I'll take my own chances without paying heed to Manchin's intervention.

    • Bigfish

      Are you an expert in this field? What are your credentials? Or are you like most people that post on this board? All they have are their opinions.you know what they say about opinions.they are like xxxxxx and everybody has one.

      • wvman75

        People have their opinions AND their votes. You would think the after the last election that the democrats would figure that out. They're on the wrong side of most issues important to the values of our citizens in this state.

    • Marjean

      Sorta like you just did?

  • Jesse's girl

    I am amazed at the comments alleging this bill as largely unknown in 2009. The Republicans were certainly NOT “uninformed and dumb.” What it was WAS known and screamed about. However, at that time the WV Democrats had their heads firmly ensconced in Obama’s posterior. No amount of logic or common sense was about to sway them. The WV Legislature was governed by committee chairs hand picked by the Governor, Emperor Joseph. Since he wanted to make himself look good for his advancement to Senator Joey-the-Weasel, only legislation HE wanted would reach the floor of the legislature for a vote. And he made certain that no embarrassing pro-life would reach his desk, cause he was headed for the big time and could not appear pro-life. Interesting that he sought to ingratiate himself with the “big boys” with his own coal killing bill. But now, thin-skinned, former Emperor and current Joey-the-Weasel has his shorts in a wad. Kudos to Speaker Armistead, Senator Cole and the Republicans.

    • norm

      JESSES GIRL U ARE QUITE RIGHT ABOUT THE WEASEL HE HAD EVERYTHING IN PLACE INCLUDING KNOWING BYRD WOULD DIE BUT HE DIDNT CLEAN UP A MESS HE LEFT BEHIND SOMEONE IS CRYING OUT FOR JUSTICE FROM THE GRAVE

    • Bitmapped

      The West Virginia Coal Association supported the bill. If it was so devastating to their interests, why would they have done that?

      • wvman75

        Why does Cecil Roberts and the UMWA keep supporting the liberal democrats and this President who're destroying the industry they represent?

      • Sick&Tired

        I remember the bill because I'm employed by the coal industry. No workers were for it and it was at the same time that blow Joe was trying to straddle with the enviros and the coal. It was the time the out of state college kids were coming in and staging their protests. Like chaining they're selfs to equipment and Joe was making comments like we need to find middle ground and have open dialogue with the out of state law breakers.I can tell you for sure it's when Joe's credibility went way down with the actual workers in the coalfields and the start of what just transpired in the last election.

    • Wowbagger

      Senator Joey-the-Weasel

      I like that!

  • CaptainQ

    Hoppy, the one thing I don't understand about all this is, how did this so-called "Cap and Trade" bill pass through the WV Legislature so quietly in 2009 without much 'yelling and screaming' from the Media or, for that matter, the WV GOP?

    Seriously, I didn't even remember this bill at all, and I try to follow the WV Legislature quite closely. Did the WV GOP suddenly 'discover' this law when they were transitioning into the leadership roles at the Capitol? Was then Governor Manchin able to 'hide' this bill/law so well that none of the GOP 'spin doctors' were able to unearth it to use against him when he ran for the U.S. Senate? Something isn't quite right here.

    • WVU 74

      CaptainQ,

      You may want to Google: West Virginia House Bill 103. There are several hits for it. In addition, there is a complete history of its passage. The Bill that passed was co-sponsored by Delegate Armstead.

      ENROLLED

      H. B. 103


      (By Mr. Speaker, (Mr. Thompson) and Delegate Armstead)

      [By Request of the Executive]

      [Passed June 2, 2009; in effect July 1, 2009.]

      • CaptainQ

        That's my point, WVU 74.

        IF the WV GOP is saying that this bill was 'cap and trade' NOW, why wasn't they (or anyone in the press) saying it back THEN?

        Also, why was it that the coal industry actually BACKED this piece of legislation back in 2009 IF it was truly 'cap and trade' to begin with?

        Like I said, something doesn't seem right about all this.

        • The bookman

          Here is some backstory on this bill that was passed in special session, not regular session, in 2009. Interesting that Armstead supported the bill during the regular session, but did not during the special session. During the regular session of 2009, the bill can be found as SB 297.

          http://wvhighlands.org/wv_voice/?p=1683

  • Jeff

    This shows everyone how uninformed and dumb the republicans in this state are.

    The law was sponsored and supported by the coal industry and was deliberately written so that power companies have to change nothing. In reality, it suppresses renewable energy.

  • The bookman

    Repeal it! The Bill was a proactive approach by government and industry to attempt to get utilities to invest in more efficient upgrades and new construction of supercritical and ultra critical coal fired power plants. Federal regulations and the lower prices of NG took almost every one of the 150 coal power plant projects off the table or on hold across the country.

    Repealing it won't create a single job, and it won't cost a single job. either. So repeal the "do nothing" legislation before the framework is used to cause harm to utilities, and by PSC extension, to electricity consumers.

    Still waiting on a substantive proposal that moves the state forward. This isn't it.

    • jeremy

      Probably not the answer but a step in the right direction. It is cap and trade on a state level, get rid of it before it grows into a monster.

    • Hillboy

      Thanks for the link you provided below. What I make of this is that the law was largely a sleight of hand effort to make it look like something was happening when basically nothing much was going to change. So, repeal it or not---makes no difference. It was a symbolic legislation and a repeal would be equally symbolic.

    • Shadow

      When one volcano eruption destroys all the effect of fossil based fuel restrictions, why is a law like this necessary in the first place? I would say pandering by Joe. It is just window dressing. Get it off the books. Supporting Wind and Solar is just money for the supporters like Gore.

      • Hillboy

        I think you've been misled if you think this law provides substantive support to wind and solar. Remember it was drafted by the Coal Association. The law requires the use of a certain percentage of "alternative" fuel sources. While it would be reasonable to expect that that "alternative" might mean wind and solar, it was actually defined in the law to include a number of types of fossil fuels.

        • Shadow

          I didn't think that it provided support to alternative energy sources. The bill was eye wash and, essentially, did nothing, just another hoop to go through.

          • Shadow

            It is called "Feel Good" Legislation and is not without its costs to the consumer.

          • Hillboy

            Yes, you are correct that it was eye wash and it did add another hoop to go through. But, it conveniently added a hoop that the power companies had already jumped through.

      • The bookman

        Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner!

    • Wirerowe

      Bookman thanks I did not know what was in the bill. I would also like to know the position of the Coal Association, if as green advocates say wind and solar are now competitive in pricing with fossil fuels any true mandates in other states for renewables for power generation and state and federal tax incentives for renewables should be repealed.

      • The bookman

        According to the State Journal, Bill Raney helped write the legislation. Here is the article from 2012.

        http://www.statejournal.com/story/19843710/wv-energy-portfolio-act-attacked-again

        • Wirerowe

          Thanks I did not understood the article completely but it dovetails in general with your conclusion that this bill is innocuous in its impact on the coal industry now and going forward. It is probably better to have some bill with renewables in the title without any true mandate for renewables. We can say we have one.

  • Toolman

    Mojo, please go away. You are no longer welcome here. Your opinion doesn't matter anymore!

  • C. F. T.

    Sen, Manchin, please stop accusing folks and organizations who disagree with you as lying.

  • Silas Lynch

    Republicans heed this: Do NOT confuse conservatism and a pro-business attitude with unfettered capitalism. Good paying jobs and a continuing elevation of living standards for all is the goal we seek but we also like our trout fishing, pristine mountain air and a overall healthy quality of life. Please do not allow a bunch of money grubbing industrialist to flood the Republican party as the anti-American socialist have flooded the democrat party...

    • Hop'sHip

      Silas? Is that you? First Aaron yesterday was making sense to me and now we get a reasonable comment from Silas? I need another cup of coffee!

      • Jason412

        Hop'sHip,

        "Silas? Is that you? First Aaron yesterday was making sense to me and now we get a reasonable comment from Silas? I need another cup of coffee!"

        +100

    • Wowbagger

      In the current federal attempt to pass the poorly named cromnibus budget bill it became increadibly obvious that both political parties have two, at odds factions: populists and corporatists. The populists both right and left are those who voted against the bill and the corporatists both right and left voted in favor.

      Both Tea party and netroots types tend toward populism and have more in common than most realize.

      I would put Manchin in the corporatist camp ... or maybe just the all about Joe and his relatives camp.

      • wirerowe

        The tea party folks would probably go along with them in opposition to these two provisions in the spending bill but the liberals would not oppose the president's immigration executive action because of fear of losing one hispanic vote.

      • wirerowe

        Excellent observation and the president for whatever reason is on the side of as you put it the corporatists. Although I don"t consider most liberals populists I think they have very legitimate gripes on what I would call riders that require the FDIC to insure derivatives and raising campaign contribution limits.If these are included in the spending bill there is every justification for not supporting the bill.