Rockefeller: Coal Reality Check

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller says it’s time to face reality about coal.

Rockefeller delivered a major policy speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday criticizing what he called the lack of leadership in the coal industry and the industry’s use of scare tactics instead of looking for solutions to coal’s problems.

Rockefeller gave the speech before voting against a Senate resolution that would disapprove the EPA’s mercury rule on coal-fired power plants.

"I oppose this resolution because I care so much about West Virginia," Rockefeller said in his Senate floor remarks.

The resolution was defeated 46-53. Rockefeller voted against it and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin voted for it.

Sen. Rockefeller says West Virginians and West Virginia coal miners care about their own health and the health of their families and EPA has backed up its rules on power plants emissions with numerous studies.

"EPA has relied on thousands of studies, thousands, thousands of studies that established the serious and long-term impact of these pollutants on premature deaths, heart attacks, hospitalizations, pregnant women, babies and children," the senator said.

Rockefeller called on the coal industry to begin showing some leadership and look toward the future. He says the natural gas industry has done so.

"But while coal executives pine for the past the natural gas folks look to the future. Investing in technologies to reduce their environmental footprint and they’re working with others in ways to support the safe development of gas," Rockefeller said.

The senator continued to chide the coal industry in his speech saying the bitterness of the fight has taken on more importance than looking for solutions.

"Discard the scare tactics. Stop denying science. Listen to what markets are saying about greenhouse gases and other environmental concerns and what West Virginians are saying about their water and their air and their health," he said.

Those in the coal industry blame EPA regulations, in part, for the decisions to idle several coal mining operations in recent months. Rockefeller says coal miners know "deep down" coal cannot continue on the same environmental path.

"I am standing with coal miners today by voting against this resolution. I don’t support this resolution of disapproval because it does nothing to look to the future of coal. It moves us backward," he said.

Rockefeller says he’s not giving up on the future of clean coal. He says to get there "we’ll need a bold partner, innovation and major public and private investments."

Rockefeller says it’s time to boldly embrace the future.

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